Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Florida's education picture not so rosy

Former Gov. Jeb Bush and his Foundation for Excellence in Education have launched an advertising campaign to sell Floridians on the wonders of standardized testing and school accountability as his reforms turn 15 years old this spring. But the Bush foundation's campaign called "Learn More. Go Further" tells only one side of a more complicated story. There have been some successes, but the campaign cherry-picks statistics to make Florida's schools look better than they are. Floridians deserve a more accurate picture of the state of public education. Here are some of that foundation's happy assertions, with a more sobering assessment that in each case comes from the same report cited by the foundation.

1 Florida's graduation rates reached an all-time high of 75 percent in 2012-2013.

BUT the graduation rate was 58.9 percent for African-American males and 80.5 percent for all white students.

2 For the second straight year, Florida finished among the top five states in the percent of high school graduates who passed an AP exam.

BUT of all AP exams taken by the class of 2013 during their high school careers, 55.5 percent failed to earn a passing mark.

3 In eighth-grade math, the academic improvement of Florida students is three times higher than that of students nationwide.

BUT Florida's average score rose just 3 points, from 278 in 2011 to 281 in 2013, while national averages rose only 1 point, from 283 to 284. Florida still lags behind the national average, and 30 percent of Florida's eighth-graders fall below basic proficiency in math.

4 No other school system in the world scored higher than Florida's fourth-grade students on the PIRLS international literacy test that compares the reading achievement of fourth-graders in 52 education systems around the world.

BUT there is a huge achievement gap between Florida's white and black fourth-graders on the same reading assessment. African-American students scored 537, far below the overall national average of 556. Florida's white fourth-graders scored 591. The gap between Florida's white and black students on this measure was 54 points.

5 Florida's low-income fourth- graders ranked first in the nation among their peers, and they performed as well or better than the average student in 15 states on the 2013 Nation's Report Card reading test.

BUT the achievement gap for Florida's low-income fourth-graders in reading has not closed much in 15 years.

6 Florida is 10th in the nation for reading achievement of African-American eighth- graders in 2013.

BUT a third of Florida's African-American eighth-graders scored below basic on this reading test. Only 16 percent of white students performed that poorly.

7 Florida is seventh in the nation on K-12 student achievement , according to the 2014 Education Week report, "Quality Counts."

BUT that ranking earned only a letter grade of C from "Quality Counts."

8 Florida's eighth-grade Hispanic students read as well or better than their peers in 35 states in 2013.

But the average score for Florida's Hispanic students was 13 points lower than for white students, and the achievement gap hasn't significantly closed in 15 years.

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Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18