Sunday, June 24, 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: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18