Jeffrey S. Solochek - Education Reporter

Education Reporter

I've been an education reporter for more than 25 years, in Illinois, Texas and Florida. Why stick with it? Because I see education as key to our community, whether it's about children learning, teachers and staff working, or residents seeking the best for their tax dollars. Our school systems are critical to our society, and I strive to tell you what's going on there. I've worked at the Tampa Bay Times since 2000, covering statewide education issues as well as the districts in Hernando, Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Think I've missed something? Send your ideas my way. I read all my emails.

  1. A sign is displayed inside a classroom that bans the use of electronic devices at Webb Middle School on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, in Tampa.
  2. The Pasco County School Board added more long weekends to the 2024-25 student calendar as a way to encourage families to make sure their children attend on school days, and vacation on days off.
  3. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, shown at a 2022 press conference, has argued that public schools are designed to convey a government message, not to create a forum for free expression.
  4. Florida Party of Florida Chairman Christian Ziegler, shown at the Florida Freedom Summit in November, has said he will not resign while under investigation for a rape allegation that he denies. The case has implications for the right-leaning education agenda advanced by Ziegler's wife, a founder of Moms for Liberty.
  5. Florida Party of Florida chairperson Christian Ziegler addresses attendees at the Republican Party of Florida Freedom Summit, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Kissimmee, Fla.
  6. Students from Monarch High School in Coconut Creek walk out of the school building Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in support of a trans student who plays on the girls volleyball team. The school principal and other administrators were removed from their positions for allowing the student to participate in the activity. Florida passed a law prohibiting trans girls to play on female sports teams.
  7. Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Kevin Hendrick, shown at an October school board meeting, says his district aims to respect every student and employee. The district recently issued an Inclusive Schools Support Guide toward that end.
  8. Pinellas County English teacher Philip Belcastro is one of several Florida teachers looking to leave the state.
  9. Palestinians flee to northern Gaza as Israeli tanks block the Salah al-Din road in the central Gaza Strip on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. Complaints about discrimination at schools have grown as the war has continued.
  10. A student publication at an Orange County high school has come under fire for including information about Florida's law requiring students to use restrooms according to their biological sex at birth.
  11. Tansheka Riggins, a student at St. Petersburg College, meets in person for the first time with her completion coach, Matt Smith, who works for local nonprofit LEAP Tampa Bay.
  12. Evan Rowlands, left, high-fives his mother, Jessica Rowlands, after answering a question while completing schoolwork at Riverview Public Library on Nov. 8.
  13. Hundreds of attendees browse booths during the national convention of the American Association of School Librarians on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023 in Tampa. Some Pasco County residents want the school district to end any financial support of the association and its parent, the American Library Association.
  14. Nov. 21• The Education Gradebook
    Automotive instructor Frederick Lawrence explains the function of rocker arm springs while teaching students at Northeast High School’s Automotive Academy on Friday, Nov 3, 2023, in St. Petersburg.
  15. Diana Gallant, 14, uses an impact tool to remove bolts on a Chevy Camaro engine while fellow student Nigella Gerena, 16, observes.
  16. The Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association has been leading a petition drive to get the union re-certified to meet new state law requirements.
  17. Lee Bryant, president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, displays stacks of petition cards at the union's office in Largo on Friday. Bryant has been leading a drive to get the union recertified but says new state rules are making it difficult.
  18. Nov. 17• The Education Gradebook
    Florida has long required high school students to pass high-stakes tests to earn a diploma. Some lawmakers have proposed doing away with the requirement. [Pasco County School District]
  19. Incoming students and their families navigate campus during New College of Florida's move-in and orientation on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023 in Sarasota.
  20. Florida's mandate that elementary schools provide 20 minutes of daily recess is up for reconsideration in the state Legislature. Moms who pushed for the rule are fighting the proposal to end it. [Times (2015)]
  21. Florida's public elementary schools must offer 20 minutes of uninterrupted free time each day under a 2017 law. Parents are worried that a proposal before the state Senate will gut that requirement. [Times (2017)]
  22. Pinellas County School Board member Carol Cook attends a regular board meeting on Oct. 10 at district headquarters in Largo.
  23. High school English teacher Vicki Baggett speaks to the Escambia County School Board on May 16, 2023. Baggett has filed dozens of complaints against books in the Panhandle district.