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. The Pinellas County school district has been in the spotlight this week following a parent complaint that the "Ruby Bridges" movie was inappropriate for second graders at North Shore Elementary in St. Petersburg.
  2. Tourists take photos in front of Michelangelo's "David statue" in the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy, Tuesday, March 28, 2023.
  3. The Palm Harbor University High School varsity football team settles into warm ups during a rain storm prior to the start of the game with Tarpon Springs High School and Palm Harbor University High School on Friday, Sep 16, 2022, at Sponger Field in Tarpon Springs.
  4. Contract bargaining between the Hillsborough County School District and the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022.
  5. Hillsborough County Public Schools holds a hearing on the text ‘This Book is Gay’ is seen Tuesday, March 28, 2023 in Tampa.
  6. "This Book Is Gay" by Juno Dawson is the subject of a challenge in the Hillsborough County school system. After a parent complained about content in the book, two school district panels approved it. But the school board, in a 4-3 vote Tuesday, has banned the book in middle schools.
  7. Students arrive for the start of the day at Altamonte Christian School in Altamonte Springs, Friday, March 10, 2023. Since 2001, the state has offered tax credit scholarships and vouchers to assist students attending private schools, including religious schools. On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure expanding eligibility for those vouchers.
  8. Crowds filter through the rotunda at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, where lawmakers made school vouchers a priority during the 2023 legislative session. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the voucher bill into law Monday at a ceremony in Miami.
  9. Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference at Miami private school shortly before he signed a bill to expand school vouchers in Florida on Monday, March 27, 2023.
  10. Ruby Bridges Hall signs and autograph for Carla Johnson and her sister Camille. Bridges Hall became famous when she was 6 years old and marched into a New Orleans elementary school to integrate the school. A movie about her story has been removed from a Pinellas County elementary school following a parent's complaint.
  11. U.S. deputy marshals escort 6-year-old Ruby Bridges from William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, La., in November 1960. The first-grader was the only Black child enrolled in the school, where parents of white students boycotted the court-ordered integration law and took their children out of school. Her story is told in the 1998 Disney movie "Ruby Bridges."
  12. Sen. Corey Simon, R-Tallahassee, urges senators to support HB 1 expanding Florida's school voucher program during floor debate on March 23, 2023. Simon, the bill sponsor, said his goal is to make sure all children get the education they deserve.
  13. Sen. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, left, asks questions about a bill to expand private school vouchers, addressing bill sponsor Sen. Corey Simon, R-Tallahassee, right. The lawmakers were working on the Senate floor Wednesday.
  14. Hillsborough High School students protested the Parental Rights in Education bill in March 2022, saying it would chill discussions and conversations with teachers. The State Board of Education has proposed rules extending into high schools the limitations initially placed on early elementary grades.
  15. John Stratton is Hernando County's appointed schools superintendent. State lawmakers are advancing a measure that could require the district to ask voters if they would prefer electing the superintendent. [WILL VRAGOVIC, Times]
  16. State Rep. Jeff Holcomb, R-Spring Hill, asks the House Choice and Innovation Subcommittee to approve a local bill that seeks to move Hernando County back to an elected school superintendent.
  17. Gaither High School students protest in 2022 against the Parental Rights in Education Act, a Florida measure that restricts the teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation that critics derided as "don't say gay." The state Legislature is working to expand the law in 2023.
  18. Sen. Corey Simon, R-Tallahassee, in the center, is carrying the Senate's voucher expansion legislation. The bill could come before the full chamber this week.
  19. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB7, "individual freedom," also dubbed the "stop woke" bill in April 2022. A federal judge has stopped implementation of the law at the state's universities while they challenge its constitutionality.
  20. State Rep. Dean Black, R-Jacksonville, tells colleagues that his bill to alter public employee union requirements (HB 1445) is good for workers. More than 100 workers who showed up to the meeting disagreed.
  21. District 1 Pasco County School Board member Al Hernandez attends a board meeting on Jan. 3 in Land O' Lakes. Last year's court challenges over where he lives have given rise to new legislation.
  22. The State  University System is asking for detailed information about the activities of United Faculty of Florida, led by Andrew Gothard, and other employee unions.
  23. People hold signs during a joint board meeting of the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine gather to establish new guidelines limiting gender-affirming care in Florida, on Nov. 4, 2022.