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ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Nov. 12, 2017

A review of the week's Florida education news and views.
Teachers converge on the  Hillsborough County School Board meeting after they are denied pay raises. [Times photo by Gabriella Angotti-Jones]
Teachers converge on the Hillsborough County School Board meeting after they are denied pay raises. [Times photo by Gabriella Angotti-Jones]
Published Nov. 18, 2017

In his final budget proposal, Gov. Rick Scott called for more education funding than ever before. He drew criticism from observers who said he's just angling for his next election bid. And he faced a potentially major snag when House leaders said they don't support his method for increasing revenue. Catch up on this story and other highlights of the week's Florida education news below. You can keep up with our conversation on Facebook, hear our podcast, and follow our blog to get all the latest Florida education news. All tips, comments and ideas welcome. Know anyone else who'd like to get this weekly roundup or other email updates? Have them send a note to jsolochek@tampabay.com.

Top of the Times

Hillsborough teachers show up in the hundreds to clamor for promised raises, Anastasia Dawson
"A weeks-long salary standoff between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers hit an emotional peak Tuesday as hundreds of teachers and students turned out to ask the School Board for their promised raises."

Does Florida's constitutional mandate of one-subject legislation apply to HB 7069?, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"Logrolling. It's defined as the practice of including multiple unrelated items in a single legislative bill, with the goal of attracting wider support for the measure as a whole. Florida's constitution forbids it. … And now nine school districts — Alachua, Bay, Broward, Hamilton, Lee, Polk, St. Lucie, Volusia and Wakulla — are asking the state Supreme Court to halt HB 7069, the controversial education law adopted in the waning hours of the spring 2017 legislative session, because of it."

Gov. Scott proposes 'record funding' for Florida education, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"In his final budget proposal as governor, with a likely U.S. Senate race ahead of him, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday unveiled his plan for 'record funding' in early education, K-12 public schools, colleges and universities."
RELATED: Property taxes likely to spur school funding fight, News Service of Florida

In union push at USF, adjunct professors strive for more respect and a living wage, Claire McNeill
"Even as college price tags have soared, universities everywhere have come to rely heavily on their inexpensive, part-time professors, who fill unexpected holes and often boast impressive credentials. According to the American Association of University Professors, half of the nation's faculty now work as part-time adjuncts."

Around the State

'There Is No Oversight': Private-School Vouchers Can Leave Parents on Their Own, Education Week, Arianna Prothero
"Florida's first foray into private school choice started in 1999, and its oldest, continuously operating program is the McKay Scholarship, which provides tuition vouchers of up to $7,000 to students with qualifying disabilities. When families use a voucher to enroll in private school, they give up, knowingly or not, most of the protections that federal law requires for special education students. If a private school decides not to admit a student, or to ask a student to leave, there's little legal recourse for parents to challenge those decisions."

Investigations squash OCSD half-cent sales tax referendum, Northwest Florida Daily News, Heather Osbourne
"The Okaloosa County School Board voted Monday to rescind the half-cent sales tax referendum to help fund the School District's infrastructure needs. The School Board made its decision after Michelle Anchors, a representative for a political action committee responsible for raising money for the mail-in ballots, asked for the referendum to be postponed. Anchors said the reason was because of the plethora of investigations of the that emerged after the group's decision to help support the tax, which was scheduled for a mail-in ballot next May."

Focus on Pre-K programs provides ROI for school district, St. Augustine Record, Colleen Michele Jones
"Three years into an ambitious expansion of pre-kindergarten programs, administrators in the St. Johns County School District say they're already seeing the investment pay off in students better prepared for the increased rigors of kindergarten."

PTA threw pep rally to push kindness. They also broke law, Sun-Sentinel, Caitlin R. McGlade
"An elementary school that encourages environmental awareness broke state law and endangered wildlife when students at a pep rally released dozens of balloons with strings attached. Florida law forbids releasing more than 10 balloons within a 24-hour period because they can kill a variety of animals which accidentally ingest them."

Other Views

HB1 not the cure for school bullies or bullied, Tallahassee Democrat guest column, retired Leon County principal Roseanne Wood
"HB1 is not the answer; it opens Pandora's Box for those who want a voucher to attend a private school yet does nothing to prevent the remaining students at the public school from being bullied. Neither does it provide any resources to help us address the problems of the troubled child who is doing the bullying or starting fights."

A troubling lack of accountability, Gatehouse Media editorial
"The Florida Education Finance Program, which funds public schools, is incredibly complex and, historically, notorious for the political manipulation of its formula. But at least there is a formula, and its methodology is recorded in documents that can be examined by legislators, school districts, reporters and members of the public. That is not the case, however, when it comes to the state's distribution of more than $600 million to 30 Early Learning Coalitions in Florida."

Endless lawsuits over charter schools hurt our students, Sun-Sentinel guest column, Renaissance Charter Schools chairman Ken Haiko
"Why are our public charter school students worth less than district public school students? Public schools in our community would have a lot more money in their coffers if the school board would stop litigating against parents and students. Our schools could also devote a lot more money to the classroom and teacher pay instead of attorney fees."

Doing away with Algebra II test is a mistake, TC Palm guest column, Sebastian High teacher William Hanna
"I am not surprised that less than half of students passed Algebra II as an end-of-course exam over its three-year existence. This is a great indicator of how we need to look at the reason for these embarrassing results and fix them, rather than escape the challenges and drop the exam. That will send a terrible message to our students."

Class size amendment: Much ado about little?, St. Augustine Record editorial
"What's important to know should the amendment find its way to the ballot is that the class size mandate is pretty much a joke these days — watered down through the years by small legislative loopholes and exceptions — death by a thousands 'buts,' if you will."

Reports of Note

STRONG STANDARDS: A Review of Changes to State Standards Since the Common Core, Achieve
"The CCSS effectively addressed these weaknesses; so have the state standards reviewed in this study. Based on this analysis as well as even more detailed reviews Achieve has conducted for a number of states in this study, we can say with confidence that across the country and with very few exceptions, the quality of state standards is significantly higher now than prior to the development of the Common Core."

Leveling the Playing Field for Rural Students, AASA
"We believe adopting the following policy initiatives will only support the work already underway in communities like Hancock County: • Enabling Access to New, High-Quality Educational Opportunities • Addressing Health Barriers to Learning • Leveraging Career and Technical Education Programs for Economic Growth • Ending Food Insecurity for Rural Children • Adequately Investing in Rural Schools It is critical that Congress act quickly to ensure that the one in six students who live in rural America are given a fairer opportunity to succeed."

Rating the Ratings: An Analysis of the 51 ESSA Accountability Plans, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
The report scores Florida strong for clear annual school ratings, and for fair school measures. It scores Florida weak in its focus on all students. "Florida receives a grade of weak because it measures achievement with proficiency rates, which may encourage schools to focus on pupils near the proficiency cutoff — and because a measure of growth for all students constitutes just 28.5 percent of schools' annual ratings, which is apt to lead schools to disregard the educational needs of higher-achieving children, especially those in high-poverty schools.

Coming Up

Week of Nov. 20: Thanksgiving break

Week of Nov. 27: Florida Constitution Revision Commission committee meetings

Nov. 28: Florida Board of Education, Leesburg

On File

Lawmakers have begun filing education related legislation in advance of the coming session. Some of the latest notable bills are:

HB 663, Students remaining on campus during school hours
SB 844, Excess credit hour tuition surcharge
SB 856, High school graduation requirements

See also Florida Constitution Revision Commission member proposals. Several relate to education.

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