Thursday, February 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Keep momentum going on Florida education

The sweeping education bill that Gov. Rick Scott has signed into law is a solid step forward. In the last week of the legislative session, lawmakers can preserve that momentum by rejecting bills that could give taxpayer money to untested online course providers and create too many opportunities for for-profit charters to take over underperforming schools.

The new education law recognizes that not all students are going to college and that it is not necessary to master Algebra II to earn a high school diploma. The law establishes a "scholar" diploma and one with a "merit" designation, which would allow students to take industry-certification courses, as a computer programmer or automotive technician, for example, in place of more traditional higher-level math and science courses. In rolling out the rules, it will be important to make sure "merit" diploma recipients are still ready for college if they decide to take that path.

The law also allows state universities to qualify as "pre-eminent research universities." The University of Florida and Florida State University already meet those standards. The law finally recognizes that treating all of the state's universities as equals does not foster excellence. The state needs flagship universities if Florida is to attract the top students and faculty.

The new law may be the Legislature's signature accomplishment on education this year, but there is more work to be done before Friday's adjournment. One Senate bill would crack down on some of the worst charter school abuses by stopping a charter school from spending more than $35,000 without its sponsor's approval if a charter is set to close or not be renewed. The bill would also bar charter school employees and their relatives from serving on the governing boards. Those provisions are part of a larger bill that includes some common sense changes regarding the new common core standards. It would forbid the state from implementing the new assessments until all schools and districts have the proven capacity to administer the tests.

But there is also cause for concern. While legislators recognize that teachers should be evaluated only on the students they personally teach, there appears to be little movement toward that basic fairness even as the state moves toward performance-based pay. And the parent trigger bill, SB 862, which would require county school boards to vote on parent-initiated turnaround plans at failing schools, is vulnerable to last-minute changes that could open the door too wide to for-profit charters or take away a local school board's authority.

A solid education bill is now law and will have an enormous impact in public schools and universities. But there are still five days for a lot to go right — or wrong — for students this session.

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Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18