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Jeffrey S. Solochek, Times Staff Writer

Jeffrey S. Solochek

Jeffrey S. Solochek writes about schools and education for the Tampa Bay Times. Solochek has covered the school districts in Hernando, Hillsborough and Pasco counties since joining the Times in 2000. He also oversees The Gradebook education blog.

Phone: (813) 909-4614


Blog: The Gradebook

Twitter: @JeffSolochek

  1. When it comes to technology, Florida schools struggle to keep up with students


    LAND O'LAKES — Three teachers stared intently at a wide-screen Apple TV, laptops at their fingertips, testing a vocabulary game for a U.S. history class.

    On the other side of a partition, about a dozen sixth-graders learned how to download e-books from their media center's growing digital collection.

    To the right, a bank of Macintosh computers lined the wall for visiting classes. To the left, carts of laptops stood ready for teachers to whisk off to their rooms....

    Rushe Middle School sixth-graders learn how to access their school’s new e-book collection on their electronic devices.
  2. Magnet school gets rolling


    After months spent talking about it, parents finally will be able to apply for Pasco County's first magnet school on Monday.

    Sanders Memorial Elementary STEAM Magnet School, combining sciences and the arts, will be open to children in kindergarten through fifth grade who live anywhere in the county. Admission to the school will be based on a lottery, although preference will be given to children who live within the Connerton and Oakstead elementary school boundaries, and children of Sanders employees....

  3. Former Pasco principal faces state sanctions


    Former Connerton Elementary School principal Anna Falcone avoided major penalties from the Pasco School Board in 2013, when it was poised to fire her for insubordination.

    She still faces possible disciplinary action from the Florida Education Practices Commission, though....

  4. Apply for Pasco's first magnet school starting on Dec. 1


    After lengthy preparations, the Pasco County school district is ready to begin receiving applications for its first magnet school, beginning on Dec. 1.

    Sanders Memorial Elementary STEAM Magnet School, with a focus on science and technology, will open in August for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. It is built for 762 students.

    Admission will be based on a lottery system, and not on a first-come, first-served basis. So it doesn't matter when a family submits its application, so long as it arrives by the Jan. 15 deadline. The applications will be accepted online only, and will be available on the district website....

  5. Florida education news: Campus life, school security, student calendar and more


    CAMPUS LIFE: Eckerd College president Donald Eastman III takes some heat for suggesting that students abstain from casual sex and drink less alcohol as a way to stem sexual abuse.

    SOLD: Corinthian Colleges has sold all its Florida campuses, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reports....

  6. Florida school districts may hire armed guards, AG office determines


    The Hillsborough school district has had a security office with armed employees for years. When the Manatee school district sought to hire armed guards, too, red flags flew.

    Critics pointed to Florida statute 790.115, which stated that people who are not law enforcement officers may not have weapons at schools. ...

  7. Florida education news: Charter schools, testing, free meals and more


    CHARTER SCHOOLS: A rise in Florida charter school enrollment continues to concern school district officials.

    TESTING: Florida's new state accountability test draws questions from parents, State Impact Florida reports. • The Brevard School Board pushes a petition calling for changes to state testing, Florida Today reports....

  8. Florida education news: Teacher discipline, evaluations, charter schools and more


    TEACHER DISCIPLINE: The Hillsborough school district looks into whether to dismiss a teacher who has a checkered past but has so far kept his job.

    EVALUATIONS: The Orange school district will not use students' state test results to judge teacher performance for two more years, the Orlando Sentinel reports....

  9. Florida education news: Bullying, Common Core, middle schools and more


    BULLYING: A new report says Florida schools don't adequately protect LGBT students, WGCU reports.

    COMMON CORE: Former Florida governor Jeb Bush keeps fighting for the controversial standards, the Sun-Sentinel reports....

  10. Let the legislation begin: Florida lawmakers file several education bills


    The elections are over. The leadership is chosen.

    With committee meetings just weeks away, Florida lawmakers have begun to put forth their proposals for another session. As in past years, several focus on education.

    Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Jacksonville, hits on the high profile issue of testing with his SB 100, in which he aims to force school districts to do what many of them already are doing voluntarily -- scale back their assessment days. His proposal, though, is very specific:...

  11. Is an anti-testing resolution worth it in Florida?


    School boards across Florida continue to ride the wave of opposition to a quick move to a new high-stakes testing system, adopting resolutions with increasing regularity as their annual meeting in Tampa approaches.

    The Marion School Board was the latest to act, moving on Thursday to ask lawmakers to allow parents to opt out of state tests for their children....

  12. Florida education news: Common Core, FSU shooting, state testing and more


    STANDARDS: Former Florida governor Jeb Bush calls for a common ground on Common Core.

    FSU SHOOTING: A deadly shooting at the campus library rocked Florida State University. Students prayed to get them through, while other state universities sought to reassure everyone they have ways to deal with such crises. The accused shooter, who was killed at the scene, is suspected of having mental illness. New FSU president John Thrasher played a key role in blocking a 2011 bill that would have allowed guns on college campuses. Hopefully other colleges and universities will learn something from the response to what happened at FSU, the Times editorializes. See lots more local reaction on the Tallahassee Democrat website....

  13. Stephen Colbert riffs on Polk school's controversial 'live shooter' drill


    You know you've hit the big time when Stephen Colbert makes fun of you. Just ask the Pasco school district.

    Polk County schools, welcome to the club.

    Last night, Colbert poked not-so-gentle fun at the Polk school that made headlines for running a "live shooter" drill, complete with rifle wielding police officers, without warning parents or students....

  14. Jeb Bush sticks to his usual education reform themes at his annual conference


    Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is holding his annual education reform conference in Washington, D.C., today, touting the accountability model and other initiatives he championed while in office. Though some of the ideas, such as heavy testing, have lately come under fire, Bush held firm to the principles he has long espoused during his keynote speech.

    "Of course choice is at the center of our reform efforts," he said. "But there are others: High standards. Rigorous, high-quality assessments. Accountability for school leaders. Early childhood literacy and ending social promotion. Digital and distance learning. Transparency for parents to see whether their schools are getting better or getting worse. These policies matter."...

  15. Pasco teachers, administration inch closer to contract deal


    Hoping to have something to give thanks for during the weeklong Thanksgiving break, the Pasco school administration and teachers union met Wednesday to see if they could hash out a contract agreement.

    No one sent out e-mails immediately afterward spinning the discussions this way or that way. Instead, the representatives talked, with the possibility of returning to the table again Thursday evening. They later decided not to convene again this week....