Saturday, February 17, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: St. Petersburg's illiteracy problem

There is no explanation that makes it more palatable, no rationalization that makes it acceptable.

St. Petersburg is home to the two worst public elementary schools in Florida when it comes to how well its students are reading. Even more jarring: Among the 25 worst-performing elementary schools in a state of 19 million people, St. Petersburg is home to five.

Nothing about that statistic is anything but disheartening for the families whose children attend those schools and for the city counting on those children growing up to be productive employees and taxpayers. Yet even as the city's schools are increasingly divided between those where students are learning to read and those where students are failing, the broader community has not heard the alarm. With some exceptions, St. Petersburg has largely been silent.

Pinellas schools superintendent Mike Grego has led the School Board toward impressive efforts in his first year on the job: after school programs, summer programs and even a more generous food service to ensure children aren't hungry as they sit in class. Several schools received turnaround plans, including the state's worst-performing elementary school, Melrose, which acquired an exceptional principal and an energized staff. Yet performance on the FCAT reading exam at the city's low-performing schools dipped lower again.

There are some explanations for this year's lower scores. Amid a sea change in the state's education standards, 2013-14 was a year where students were taught with a new curriculum not aligned with the FCAT.

But no reason lifts this cloud: Five of Florida's worst 25 elementary schools in reading performance were in the Sunshine City. Behind its glistening waterfront, burgeoning arts scene and friendly neighborhoods is a rising tide of illiteracy that threatens the future of not only many of its poorest children, but an entire urban community.

This should be the clarion call — for the business leaders who have sat on the sidelines; for politicians who claim to support education but stand by while these students can't read; and for the broader community to look beyond their own schools, public or private, to engage in making sure every child learns. Even the best teachers can't do it alone. Only a concentrated and sustained effort, communitywide, has a chance to turn this tide.

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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
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18
Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Immigrants brought into this country illegally as children by their parents may be wondering whom to trust. The political theater being played out in Washington hasnít settled the status of either the "Dreamers" or the estimated 11 million other undo...
Published: 02/13/18
Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

While it came as little surprise, the Tampa Bay Raysí selection of an Ybor City site near Tampaís Channel District as the best spot for a new stadium is an important milestone in the effort to keep Major League Baseball. Now comes the hard work of de...
Published: 02/09/18
Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

After pummeling public education so soundly last year, itís little surprise Republican state legislators are mounting another attack on public schools, teachers and local districts. The mammoth education bill passed by the House last week is loaded w...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/13/18