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Want to fix No Child Left Behind? Copy Florida, two highly regarded education researchers suggest in a recent Education Week commentary. Education Sector co-director Thomas Toch and former FSU professor Douglas N. Harris write that No Child has led states to lower their standards because it doesn't give schools enough credit for improvement. A better way, they say, would be giving credit for how many students reach proficiency and for how many students made gains, whether they reached proficiency or not. That's what Florida does.

No security

As long as Florida teachers' base pay lags behind the national average, merit bonuses are not the solution some think it is, state teachers union president Andy Ford told Gradebook. Teachers want security, something a bonus system simply doesn't provide, Ford said. Pay teachers a decent wage, he said, before discussing rewards for raising student achievement. Offering increased pay to work at challenging schools isn't the answer either, Ford said. Far more important in his opinion is making sure teachers at those schools are supported by the principal.

Get ready to work

Europe's apprenticeship model comes to Pasco County's new engineering academy next year. Coastal Caisson, Micron Pharmaworks, Jabil Circuit, Nielsen Co. and Pall Aeropower all plan to offer internships to students in the River Ridge High academy, as well as expand apprenticeship offerings for Pinellas' East Lake High's Academy of Engineering. Pasco School Board chairwoman Kathryn Starkey, who coordinated with East Lake teacher J. Paul Wahnish to bring the concept to Pasco, figured the model eventually would extend to other career academies.

Election politics

Hillsborough's blue-collar workers union is filing an ethics complaint against incumbent Carol Kurdell. It claims Kurdell was campaigning at a Sept. 16 board meeting when she stated that a bus driver had been told not to talk to her. The reason? The union had not endorsed her, she said. HSEF endorsed her opponent, Stephen Gorham. Union president Luis Perez showed up at last week's board meeting to complain. Perez said he waited for Kurdell to call after the meeting to no avail. So he has filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics. Kurdell said she does not reply to threats of legal action. "I am extremely disgusted by the partisan politics that is going on in this election," she said. "I've never been exposed to it in all of my years of running for office, and it really saddens me that we have devolved to this level."

Gradebook contributors: Ron Matus, Jeffrey S. Solochek, Letitia Stein and Donna Winchester.