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ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of May 6, 2018

A collection of news and views from the past week.
Hillsborough schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins held his start-of-the-year news conference at Mort Elementary School in 2016 to showcase a community school project there. Now, the state wants to assign an outside operator to Mort if it fails to achieve at least a grade of C. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times (2016)]
Published May 12, 2018

Finding a workable solution to help improve struggling schools isn’t easy. Changing the approach every few years can make the effort even harder. That’s what the Hillsborough County school district is finding as the administration encounters tough questions from the School Board over third reorganization amid a financial crisis.  • Don’t miss our weekly highlights of the news, views, reports and more. You can keep up daily 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 who’d like to get this weekly roundup or other education updates via email? Have them send a note to

Top of the Times

In Hillsborough, another new plan for struggling schools draws questions, Marlene Sokol
“The same day he told his School Board about a $12.3 million budget deficit, Hillsborough County superintendent Jeff Eakins unveiled his most ambitious plan yet to rescue 49 district schools from a long cycle of low grades and neglect.”

Hernando district wrong to fire all Moton teachers, settlement says, Megan Reeves
“Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano signed a settlement agreement with the district teachers union Tuesday night, conceding to the group’s claim that she violated its contract when she fired the entire teaching staff at Moton Elementary last month.”

Pasco family sues school district over Pledge of Allegiance spat, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“A Pasco County family whose first grader was reprimanded in September for taking a knee while his classmates recited the Pledge of Allegiance has sued the school district, alleging the boy’s teacher violated his constitutional rights.”

Civil rights groups urge U.S. Education Secretary DeVos to reject Florida’s latest accountability plan, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“After several delays, the Florida Department of Education submitted its revised Every Student Succeeds Act plan to the federal government in mid April. Some civil rights group leaders want U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to do to the second version what she did to the first — reject it as noncompliant with federal law.”

Visit for more education news from the Times staff.

Around the State

State orders Duval schools to uproot hundreds of students again, Florida Times-Union, Denise Amos
“Two years ago Duval County Schools violated the law when it enrolled hundreds of students from four previously failing schools in other schools, including some rated D or F. State officials now say they want the district to take corrective action by re-assigning 378 of those students out of their current schools to a third school for next year. The new schools must be rated C or better, Superintendent Patricia Willis said Tuesday.”

Lee County teachers mandated to inflate grades at some schools, Fox 4, Tony Sadiku
“Teachers say students who would otherwise get a zero are given between a 50 to 59% regardless of whether they prove they’ve learned anything. If a student doesn’t turn in a single assignment all quarter, they’ve earned a 50% at some schools.”

Student asks school leaders to be civil, Ocala Star-Banner, Joe Callahan
“A 13-year-old middle school student who has been bullied most of his school life eloquently told the [Marion County] School Board on Tuesday that members are not treating each other in accordance with the board-approved Student Code of Conduct.”

Teachers can’t afford 91 percent of the homes in Miami, new study says, Miami Herald, Rob Wile
“There’s a reason why people are seriously considering having Miami teachers live at school. Miami area teachers can now only afford 9 percent of area homes, according to new data from Trulia.”

Other Views

Start early with civics education, Gainesville Sun columnist Nathan Crabbe
“The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has botched a ballot measure promoting civics education so badly that even Bob Graham is voting against it.”

Private school fraud, problems made by Legislature, Pensacola News-Journal editorial
“The upcoming sentencing in the Newpoint Charter Schools fraud case is yet another reminder of a private school culture that the Florida Legislature created with its policies by dumping millions of dollars away from public schools and into the pockets of a poorly regulated for-profit school industry.”

Charter schools bring unprecedented accountability to public education, TC Palm guest column, charter school board member Amy Banov
“Charter schools brought unprecedented academic accountability into public education.  If a charter school fails to provide adequate levels of student achievement, it can be closed. This is not true of district-run public schools, where failing schools often undergo school improvement and turnaround measures for years, subjecting generations of children to a subpar education.”

Put school safety above politics, Herald-Tribune editorial
“The Legislature should convene in a special session, if needed, to recalculate the costs of the enhanced requirements and reallocate funds to cover those costs during the next school year and beyond. But even if commissioners are trying to make a political point, they should maintain precedent and continue recognition that protecting children and adults at school is a shared responsibility.”

Honor teachers by helping them educate our children, Miami Herald guest column, Tracy Wilson Mourning of the Mourning Family Foundation
“Instead of hearing their calls for help over the years, we have sat idly by as taxpayer funds are being shifted out of the hands of public schools and into the pockets of private entities — organizations that operate with impunity and under no guarantee that children are receiving the education they need to become successful contributing members of our society. A quality education is important for all children, for all communities. Public school teachers need to know that they matter.”

Reports of Note

Rating Teacher-Preparation Programs, Education Next, Paul T. von Hippel and Laura Bellows
“We re-analyzed prior evaluations of teacher-preparation programs from six locations: Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, Washington State, and New York City. We found negligible differences in teacher quality between programs, amounting to no more than 3 percent of the average test-score gap between students from low-income families and their more affluent peers. Differences between programs were negligible even in Louisiana and New York City, where earlier evaluations had reported substantial differences and fueled the push for program accountability.”

Hire Expectations: Big-district superintendents stay in their jobs longer than we think, Broad Center
“In American K-12 public education, women far outnumber men throughout our nation’s public education systems — from the classroom to the district’s central office. At the chief executive level, however, they are still deeply underrepresented and working to break through historic barriers to their leadership.”

Coming Up

May 15: Education Practices Commission, phone hearing

May 16: Florida Board of Education, Pinellas County School Board offices, Largo

Week of June 18: Candidate qualifying for state legislative and local school board seats

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