I am certain that as she did in 2008, Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016. But presidential politics can change in a flash. • When I read the New York Times' recent article, "Eye on 2016, Clintons rebuild bond with blacks," I realized that Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, are repeating a failed strategy of the 2008 campaign: They are aggressively wooing the support of black leaders, including elected officials, heads of civic and civil rights organizations, celebrities and, of course, black ministers. • And once again, they apparently trust these leaders, especially members of the Congressional Black Caucus, to keep their word, perhaps delivering the black vote, an important bloc in presidential elections....
Florida's public schools come under increasing pressure each year to show students are improving academically. In more recent years, state and local lawmakers have been turning attention to the quality of classroom teachers and measuring teacher performance.
The popular measure of teacher performance now is student scores on high-stakes standardized tests. After all, research consistently shows that students with high-performing teachers tend to score better on all academic measures....
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK
‘When I was a boy in Scotland I was fond of everything that was wild, and all my life I've been growing fonder and fonder of wild places and wild creatures," conservationist John Muir wrote in his essay "A Boyhood in Scotland."
If you change Muir's Scotland to Florida, you get a good description of my childhood and how my love grows each day for what remains of the Sunshine State's wild places, particularly Everglades National Park....
A universal truth in education is that regardless of their race or ethnicity or income, students whose parents are involved in their learning tend to perform better academically, graduate on time and move on to college or professional schools at higher rates than those whose parents are not involved.
Emma Banks, principal of Inlet Grove Community High School, has embraced this truth and is making parental involvement part of standard operations....
Albert Einstein said that insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
In Florida, environmentalists have their unique definition of insanity: knowingly destroying our environment — one of our major economic resources — while blocking efforts to slow or stop the destruction.
This brand of insanity plays out daily and has for decades, from the moment business owners, their political supporters and lobbyists learned that the abuse of our precious wild places can bring huge profits....
Freshman admission to elite colleges and universities has been based on meritocracy, individual ability and achievement of the so-called "best and brightest."
The primary measuring tool has been the standardized test, and the SAT and ACT are the most used. Of course, a lucrative industry charges would-be applicants a lot of money to coach them on subject matter that appears on these tests....
When I read that the last Volkswagen campervan would roll off the assembly line on Dec. 31, I was transported back in time.
The company in Brazil that is the world's last manufacturer of this automotive icon will stop production. It says it can't make money and meet the country's new safety mandates of antilock braking systems and air bags beginning 2014.
I fell in love with the Volkswagen campervan during the summer of 1964, at the end of my freshman year of college. I was driving with a schoolmate in his old Plymouth sedan from Texas to Atlanta. Outside Vicksburg, Miss., the car broke down and we started walking in search of a service station. We didn't dare hold out our thumbs as hitchhikers because — as two young black males in the Deep South — we were afraid to attract attention....
Chuck Harmon, 53, will retire in January as St. Petersburg's longest-serving police chief in recent history. There are good reasons for this longevity. In addition to being street-savvy and professional, he is honest, soft-spoken and measured in his actions. And he clearly loves the city he swore to serve and protect.
When I learned he was retiring, I asked him to talk with me about his legacy and issues related to the department and its future....
Before sequestration took effect in January, dire predictions came from almost every area that would be impacted. Sequestration is the process of automatic across-the-board budget cuts in most federal departments and agencies.
Although some people may have been crying wolf, those in science and medical research clearly were not, according to a survey of research institutions by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology....
When a cousin told me a few weeks ago that his son is a freshman at the University of Illinois-Chicago, I offered this unsolicited advice: "Tell him to watch what he expresses through social media."
My cousin, an executive for a long-haul trucking company, thanked me for the warning. However, his 18-year-old son said: "I know all about that stuff." After all, he has Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts. Having grown up with the technology, he is what is called a "social media native."...
We are commiserating after wannabe cop George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
For many of us, our commiseration has meant having the "talk" with our sons. Also called the "black male code," the "talk" is the lecture about appropriate behavior and dress in public spaces, especially in the presence of police officers. In much of America, the conventional wisdom is that young black males are a threat, and we hope that in most situations, appropriateness and humility will give us a small measure of protection....
During the next few weeks, America's public schools will reopen after summer vacation, and the debate about the quality of our teachers will resume. Negative headlines will hit front pages, and state lawmakers who disdain public school teachers will hatch new, ideologically driven quick fixes.
It will be the same nasty debate in which teachers are portrayed as incompetent union-backed slackers and enemies of the children they are paid to instruct....
I admire just a handful of people, those who do what philanthropist Edward Bok described as the essence of human purpose: "Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it."
I have traveled to the American West, here to southwest Montana in particular, for many years, and I have come to admire 73-year-old Ted Turner. Yes, that Ted Turner, the billionaire provocateur and "mouth of the South," founder of CNN and TBS and former owner of the Atlanta Braves....
Charter schools are seen by many parents, policymakers and educators as the panacea in public education. Each year, these campuses are increasing in number nationwide.
In a recent survey of research on school choice and charter schools, the Hechinger Report, an independent education news affiliate of Teachers College at Columbia University, finds mounting evidence that charters are not a panacea. In fact, they are enabling our return to racial segregation in public education....
The Thrill is Gone, the title of a B.B. King hit song, aptly describes the relationship between Barack Obama and African-American leaders who believed that the election of the nation's first black president would give them more access to the White House and real political clout for the first time.
Well into Obama's second term, however, many who worked tirelessly and donated money to get the then-Illinois senator elected are quietly voicing their disappointment. A rare few are publicly acknowledging the growing perception that Obama lacks genuine interest in their issues. ...