Friday, February 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Pressing for elementary excellence

The most obvious benefit of a Pinellas County plan to place a gifted teacher in all 72 elementary schools is that bright students will be in class learning instead of wasting time being bused to learning centers. But superintendent Mike Grego's redirection of resources starting next fall also should provide more enrichment for children in high-poverty schools. There are some risks in the change, but the potential benefits appear far greater.

Currently, 29 of the county's elementary schools don't have a gifted instructor, so qualified students are bused to 11 centers weekly. Putting a full- or part-time teacher in each school will have a net cost of $610,000.

The expansion is also billed as a boost to the new Talent Development Programs at 34 district schools with a high percentage of free and reduced-price lunch recipients. Gifted teachers in those schools will run enrichment programs for the broader student body. That should improve the appeal of neighborhood schools not only for students and parents, but for staff. And it signals that excellence is worth the investment.

The risk is that the system could isolate some gifted students who will no longer have a chance to leave campus to learn with a community of bright children. Some schools' success rates are so low there may only be one or two gifted students per grade. On the 2013 FCAT test, for example, only 7 percent of Campbell Park's third-grade students and 4 percent of Fairmount Park's tested at grade level in math. But the district promises the plan is flexible enough to use multigrade groups and other strategies. It also plans to bring students from neighboring schools together for joint events.

There is more to discuss about gifted programs, particularly socioeconomic divides that mean poor students with fewer opportunities for enrichment are less likely to achieve the scores necessary for admission. But the new strategy could increase the odds that more talented students are identified and challenged. That is in everyone's interest.

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Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the state’s safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last week’s massacre ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Association’s solid w...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nation’s conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places — South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington — as survivors, victims’ families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasn’t enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Updated: 2 hours ago
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...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldn’t take months or another tragedy for Florida — which is hot and full of seniors — to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. That’s why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Updated: 2 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.’’ A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he won’t 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 Trump’s 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 nation’s 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trump’s rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trump’s rising deficits and misplaced priorities

It’s 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