Monday, January 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Progress on achievement, but not enough

The Hillsborough County School District has some success to show for the millions it has spent to close the achievement gap between white and minority students. Graduation rates and disciplinary cases are moving in the right direction. But there is still a way to go, and educators and community leaders need to continue exploring how to reach at-risk students.

A School Board workshop this week provided a snapshot of the progress and of the work ahead. Graduation rates are improving for black and Hispanic students. More minorities are taking and passing advanced placement exams. Thanks to a sharp focus on the problem, the rate of black students involved in disciplinary cases is down significantly from last year. These are meaningful gains in an urban district still recovering from the recession, and they speak to the working relationship between the public schools and their private-sector partners.

Still, the gap persists between white and minority students. Graduation rates for black students (58 percent) and Hispanics (68 percent) still lag behind the overall average (73 percent). Black graduation rates also show softer signs of improvement in recent years. Black students are about half as likely as their white counterparts to read on level in third grade. And black students still make up a disproportionate share of disciplinary cases. Black students account for 22 percent of the district's 200,000 students but 38 percent of its misconduct cases. That means thousands of black students are not where they should be — in the classroom — but instead on a track to failure.

The district is creating a task force to explore other strategies that work. It should continue to provide extra tutoring, guidance and other resources to at-risk students. Having a role model provide personal attention can make all the difference. Officials also should strengthen ties with private-sector charities; these groups are community-based and often interact with these families on a regular basis. Local nonprofits can bring in mentors to fill the critical time after the school day.

Parents, community and civic leaders also need to take more ownership of the problem. The NAACP should recognize the quality of the school district it has as a partner and raise expectations for minority student achievement. The classroom doesn't operate in a vacuum. And no community in modern America will cut it that graduates barely half its young population. The school district is right to give this issue a sense of urgency. But it cannot solve the problem alone.

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Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Something is seriously amiss at Tampa Bay’s two CareerSource agencies, which receive millions in federal and state money to match unemployed workers with local employers. First, the agencies appear to be taking credit — and money — for job placements...
Updated: 4 hours ago

A Chicago Tribune editorial: Shut down this shutdown habit

"Shutting down the government of the United States of America should never ever be a bargaining chip for any issue. Period. It should be to governing as chemical warfare is to real warfare. It should be banned."— Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., addressing ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18