ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 1, 2018

Scores of teachers gathered in November to protest at a School Board meeting in Tampa, where the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association is engaged in a long and contentious contract battle with the district. A new state law requires teachers' unions to prove they represent at least half of eligible employees or risk being decertfied. [GABRIELLA ANGOTTI-JONES | Times]
Scores of teachers gathered in November to protest at a School Board meeting in Tampa, where the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association is engaged in a long and contentious contract battle with the district. A new state law requires teachers' unions to prove they represent at least half of eligible employees or risk being decertfied. [GABRIELLA ANGOTTI-JONES | Times]
Published July 7

Big news this week. As expected, some Florida teachers and their labor organizations sued the state over newly effective law that changes collective bargaining rules. And in the didn’t expect that category, education commissioner Pam Stewart told six lawmakers they were wrong in accusing some school districts of trying to game the state’s school grading system. •  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 else who’d like to get this weekly roundup or other email updates? Have them send a note to [email protected].

Top of the Times

Teachers, labor organizations sue over Florida ‘union busting’ law, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“A group of Florida local teacher organizations and individual teachers — both members and non-members — joined the Florida Education Association on Monday in suing the state over changes in union certification law that took effect over the weekend. ‘We’re not feeling defeated. We’re feeling angry and we’re ready to do something about it. We’re tired of being the target of legislators,’ said Melissa Rudd, Wakulla teacher organization president, one of the plaintiffs in the suit.”
DOCUMENT: Florida Education Association and others vs. Florida Public Employees Relations commissioners

In Hillsborough, charter school money becomes an issue in House race, Marlene Sokol
“With her first campaign for state office barely off the ground, Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes faces an organized effort by opponents of the charter school movement to keep her out of Tallahassee.”

It’s harder than ever to get into USF. Some worry about the downside., Claire McNeill
“After years of effort, USF Tampa has been deemed a preeminent university, a lucrative state honor based on hitting goals on metrics like graduation rates. As the USF System unifies, leaders want USF to stay preeminent and keep those bonus dollars flowing. To do that, incoming fall students across all three campuses — not just Tampa anymore — need to average a strong academic profile: a 4.0 weighted high school GPA and a 1200 SAT. USF is aiming higher than that, a sign of its growing prestige and, for some, a cause for concern. Tougher admissions undoubtedly make it trickier for the school to ensure its diverse student body stays that way.”

New Hernando schools superintendent hopes to restore trust in district, Megan Reeves
“As the new, temporary superintendent of Hernando County schools, John Stratton is tasked with more than running a school district. He’s putting a community back together.”

Visit tampabay.com for more education news from the Times staff.

Around the State

Florida Influencers: Teacher pay ranks as top education issue of 2018, Miami Herald, Adam Wollner
“Raising salaries for the tens of thousands of K-12 public school teachers across Florida is the most pressing education issue political candidates running for office in 2018 should focus on. That’s according to the latest survey of the Florida Influencers — a group of 50 of the state’s leading voices in the political, business, academic and faith communities.”

Commissioner to lawmakers: No evidence school districts violated law, Orlando Sentinel, Leslie Postal
“Florida school districts that delayed enrollment in a required civics course for some middle school students did nothing wrong — and may have made an ‘educationally sound’ decision for those youngsters, said Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.”

Framers’ allowed to file brief in education legal fight, News Service of Florida
“The Supreme Court issued a one-paragraph order Friday allowing the group to file a brief but also appeared to leave open the possibility that the state could object to parts of the brief, known formally as an amicus brief.”

Some school cops actually live on campus, but not much longer for one, Palm Beach Post, Sonja Isger
“School Police Officer Alex Lopez has stopped burglars, vandals and graffiti artists from mischief at Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary near Palm Beach Gardens — not because he walks its halls by day, but because he lives in a 2,000-square-foot mobile home on the school’s property at night, on weekends, through the summer, year-round.”

Other Views

A FL School Board Nearly Rejected Science Textbooks After Creationist Complaints, Patheos column, Hemant Mehta
“These aren’t people who know anything about science. They’re religious zealots who don’t like that the facts don’t mesh with their beliefs, and they’re trying to keep students ignorant because education gets in the way of their indoctrination.”

Janus is just one of many arrows that see unions as the target, Miami Herald guest column, Florida Education Association vice president Fedrick Ingram
“In the short run, the Janus decision, the president’s executive orders, and the regressive and unfair anti-teacher legislation in Florida may hurt the labor movement, but legislation and executive orders that are so clearly politically motivated will create a backlash.”

Florida’s schools engaged in double standard of epic proportions, Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano
“I’m not suggesting private schools shouldn’t be allowed to teach what they want. And I’m not suggesting parents shouldn’t be allowed to enroll their children in their schools of choice. What am I suggesting is Florida is engaging in a double standard of epic proportions. Our traditional public schools are micromanaged by the Legislature to an absurd degree, while private schools take advantage of taxpayer largesse with virtually no accountability.”

Bonita Springs believes county should fund school deputies, Fort Myers News-Press guest column, Bonita Springs mayor Peter Simmons
“Lately, there has been a lot of debate regarding funding for the School Safety Act. City Council discussed the topic on June 6 during a council meeting where it was determined that Bonita Springs City Council respectfully disagrees with Lee County’s recently adopted change in policy to now fund school resource officers only in the unincorporated part of the County. The county had been contributing to the cost of resource officers throughout the school district from the county property tax.”

Reports of Note

The 2018 Brown Center Report on American Education
“A seeming consensus among civics education experts has taken shape in recent years, reflected in the “proven practices” and C3 frameworks: High-quality civics education includes a solid foundation of knowledge, discussion of relevant issues, interactive learning, and participation in the community. The inventory here suggests that state policy reflects, at least in part, components of these frameworks. At the same time, Civics education today still occurs, for many if not most students, through discussion rather than participation. The 2018 Brown Center Report on American Education 26 in terms of both state policy and student experiences, civics instruction is still more likely to incorporate traditional, discussion-based instruction than interactive activities or community engagement.”

Coming Up

July 18: Florida Board of Education, Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate

July 24-26, Florida Education Practices Commission, Bonita Springs

August 28: Primary election

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