Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Editorial: For better or worse, Florida schools reflect segregated neighborhoods

Florida's public school enrollment grows more diverse by the day, and yet schools are increasingly more segregated. A recent study by the LeRoy Collins Institute at Florida State University depicts a public school system where minority students are much more likely to be in a classroom that does not reflect the state's diversity. That's not healthy for the future of Florida or the students.

Some of this can be traced to population trends. In 1976, white children accounted for 70 percent of public school students in Florida. By 2014, white children were 40 percent. The portion of black children has decreased slightly (22.9 percent to 22.3 percent), but the Hispanic population has exploded. Hispanic children made up 6.5 percent of the public school system in Florida in 1976, but in 2014 they accounted for 30.9 percent of classroom seats, a nearly fivefold increase.

Despite this multicultural landscape, housing patterns and court rulings that put an end to the era of busing for desegregation have turned many schools into miniature versions of segregated neighborhoods. More than 700 schools in the state have student populations that are 90 percent or more minority.

A doubling of segregated schools in Florida

10.6% . 20.2 %

In 1994, roughly one out of every 10 public schools in Florida had a student population that was 90 percent or more nonwhite. By 2014, the percentage was 20.2, or one out of every five schools.

Hillsborough and Pinellas student population


Pinellas and Hillsborough are completely different districts when it comes to the makeup of schools. Pinellas schools have a greater portion of white students than the national average, while Hispanic children now outnumber white children in Hillsborough schools.

Portion of charter school enrollment that is white

Florida Pinellas

35.1% 68.2%

In Florida, just 35.1 percent of charter school students are white while 39.7 percent are Hispanic. That trend does not extend to Pinellas County, where the portion of students in charter schools who are white is nearly double the state average, at 68.2 percent.

Fewer all-white schools

18.4% . 41.0%

While many more schools are now almost exclusively filled with minorities, fewer schools are all-white. In 1994, only 18.4 percent of white students in Florida attended a multiracial school, which is defined by having at least 10 percent of three or more racial/ethnic groups. By 2014, 41 percent of white students attended multiracial schools.

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18

Editorial: Pinellas commission stands up for accountability

The Pinellas County Commission has gotten the message that it should not be a rubber stamp. Commissioners sent a clear signal this week they will demand more accountability of local agencies by refusing to approve nominees for the board for CareerSou...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Editorial: Progress on Tampa Bay graduation rates

Tampa Bay’s four school districts all reached a significant milestone last school year: achieving graduation rates over 80 percent. It’s believed to be the first time Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties all surpassed that threshold, a...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Take deal; build wall

President Donald Trump says he is optimistic a deal can be struck to shield "Dreamers," the young undocumented immigrants whose lives he put in jeopardy by stripping them of work permits and deportation protection, beginning March 5. His price, and t...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/11/18