Monday, December 18, 2017
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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Looking back at 2017 through the eyes of editorial cartoonists

Looking back at 2017 through the eyes of editorial cartoonists

The annual Editorial Cartoon Round-Up is a thought-provoking recap of a momentous 2017. The gallery containing 32 cartoons from some of the best editorial cartoonists in the country is made available by the Washington Post News Service & Syndicat...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17