Monday, June 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Flawed school grades don't serve public

The education insiders who gathered this week in Clearwater at the governor's invitation were right about continuing Florida's move to Common Core State Standards. But they failed to recommend solutions for the short term, showing little political appetite for reforming the flawed school accountability system that will be used until the new standards take hold. That's not fair to students or schools that will continue to be evaluated based on a system that's lost credibility even with a key member of the state Board of Education. Clinging to a flawed system and condoning so much collateral damage does not build public trust in public education.

The three-day K-12 summit was Republican Gov. Rick Scott's first major foray into the details of public education policy — though he failed to show up to kick it off, sending instead interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart. In a room packed with county school superintendents, state lawmakers and educators, there was tacit agreement that Florida's accountability system has gone off track in the past two years as the state embraced more than 30 changes to the school grading formula. Some of those changes may have been warranted, but the result — combined with continued changes in the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test — is a scheme so complex and mistrusted that for the second year the Board of Education had to tweak the final results.

That prompted Board of Education member Kathleen Shanahan of Tampa — former chief of staff to then-Gov. Jeb Bush, the architect of Florida's school accountability system — to propose, but to no avail, that the state forgo awarding school grades until changes could be made. Abolishing school grades remains a more rational solution than the status quo, where the state intends to hold schools "accountable" under a system that isn't accountable for its own flawed methodology.

Scott's education summit ended up tacitly embracing such dysfunction for another year when it sidestepped the issue, focusing more on how the accountability system would work starting in 2014-15, when the Common Core State Standards are fully implemented. That shouldn't be the final word.

The last round of school grades under the flawed scheme aren't due until next summer, giving plenty of time for Scott or lawmakers to issue a mea culpa and agree to take a break from assigning school grades until the new Common Core system is fully vetted and in place. Parents still would be able to find out how their children's schools are performing on standardized tests and other measures. But more importantly, parents, teachers and students could have renewed confidence that Florida leaders are more interested in fairly and accurately assessing schools than in propping up a legacy system that has lost credibility.

Comments
Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18

Editorial: Florida needs to explain its own price gouging

In the wake of Hurricane Irma last fall, Attorney General Pam Bondi vowed to scour Florida to prevent businesses from exploiting consumers by price gouging. It turns out she could have just looked down the hall in the state capitol. Based on reportin...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18