Saturday, April 21, 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: 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: 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
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
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18