ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 30, 2018

[Florida Prepaid College Savings Plan]
[Florida Prepaid College Savings Plan]
Published August 4 2018

Students begin returning to Florida schools next week. Teachers have already headed back, and districts are firming up their rules, and making last-minute checks to ensure everyone will be safe and secure. The work never ends.  • 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

Did Florida’s prepaid college plan stiff thousands of students? A judge says no, but the question lives on., Jeffrey S. Solochek
“At issue is the ‘tuition differential fee,’ adopted by lawmakers in 2007 to allow the state’s five largest universities — later expanded to all of them — to charge an undergraduate fee that would help bolster program funding. The state distinguished the fee from tuition, which it wanted to keep low. And so, too, did Florida Prepaid.”

News of lead testing catches Hillsborough School Board members off-guard, Marlene Sokol
“Members of the Hillsborough County School Board said Tuesday that they would have liked to be notified sooner about that the district has been testing school water for lead. Cindy Stuart and Tamara Shamburger said they did not appreciate learning about the lead issue in Wednesday’s Tampa Bay Times. A third member, Melissa Snively, had questions for the district’s communications staff.”

Hey, kids. Stop calling Uber Eats while you’re in Pasco County schools., Jeffrey S. Solochek
“Assistant superintendent Kevin Shibley said both principals and delivery services, such as Domino’s and Uber Eats, had requested the rule. ‘The high school principals have expressed displeasure, and the vendors themselves have called to say, ‘Please stop this from happening,’’ Shibley told the board.”

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

Around the State

School district seeks more minority gifted students, Palm Beach Post, Sonja Isger
“The county’s education leaders say they are slowly chipping away at the factors that contribute to a disproportionately – and overwhelmingly — white enrollment in the school district’s gifted classrooms.”

New state rules, timing could prompt late Duval teacher shuffle, Florida Times-Union, Denise Amos
“The union representing Duval County teachers last week said that some teachers who are assigned to ‘turnaround schools’ should be prepared to pack up and move their classroom materials with as little as two days’ notice because they could be transferred to other schools. That is because of recent changes in state law that limit the number of teachers with low ‘VAM,’ or value-added measure, scores allowed to teach at struggling schools. VAM scores are based on the test performance of a teacher’s students on state reading and math exams.”

Northeast High to receive $41 million overhaul, Sun-Sentinel, Scott Travis
“The cost to fix the 55-year-old campus — which is plagued by mold, leaking roofs and faulty air conditioners — is nearly triple the original estimate of $14.5 million.”

Former Oviedo teacher switches careers to become professional grocery shopper, WESH, Michelle Imperato
“Hennessey became a shopper for Shipt, part-time. In 2015 he developed a system and a fan base. Two years later, he realized he could make some real money, which made him reflect on his time in the classroom.”

Other Views

Schools must seek tax increases because Tallahassee loves charters, Sun-Sentinel guest column, Randy Schultz of Boca Magazine
“Under current law, school districts must approve charter schools and retain oversight. After all, it’s public money. But for-profit operators and cooperative Republican politicians have rigged the system.”

Let’s try to remember charter schools are not the enemy, Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano
“It may be a popular applause line among Democrats, but it is unnecessary and unproductive. The larger part of their message is that public schools in Florida are under attack, and that is undeniably accurate. But the enemy is not charter schools. Nor private schools, for that matter. The target of their ire should be the politicians in Tallahassee who have created an unequal playing field for education, and are constantly scheming to direct education money into corporate hands.”

What do school scores really mean?, St. Augustine Record editorial
“We know that St. Johns County has been the highest ranked school system in the state for more than a decade. What we’ve often pondered, though, is how high Florida’s school system is ranked nationally. If you’re the top-rated school in the lowest rated state, what does that really say about the achievement?”

The trauma of an active shooter drill, Herald-Tribune columnist Carrie Seidman
“And I’m an adult who has faced my own mortality — though not quite as imminently — in the form of a life-threatening illness. So most of all I was wondering this: What would my reaction be to this training if I were a child, one of the 90 percent of students, K-12, who have repeatedly experienced shooter drills over the past decade, some since they first entered school?”

Palm Beach County Schools has your name, but not your number, Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino
“I don’t have any recommendations, but if there are any corporations that want to invest in public school naming rights, I do have some predictions. I predict that the uniforms at Best Buy High will be blue polo shirts and khaki pants. That a new fast-food-sponsored school will be named Chick-fil-A+ Elementary. And that the school funded by Florida Power & Light will have a cheerleading squad called ‘The Live Wires.’”

Why No On 8? Consider This Analogy, Accountabaloney blog, Monroe School Board member-elect Sue Woltanski
“Amendment 8 links three otherwise unrelated education proposals and then attempts to hide radical policy behind term limits, which polls well. Here is an analogy: Imagine you were presented with an ice cream sundae. It looks delicious and you want to take a bite. What if I told you there was a little poop mixed into that sundae… it still LOOKS delicious but should you eat it? Amendment 8 is a Poop Sundae.”

Reports of Note

Principal Attrition and Mobility, National Center for Education Statistics
“Among 2015–16 public school principals of schools where less than 35 percent of K–12 students were approved for free or reduced-price lunches, 85 percent remained at the same school during the 2016–17 school year (“stayers”), 5 percent moved to a different school (“movers”), and 8 percent left the principalship (“leavers”). Among 2015–16 principals of schools where more than 75 percent of students were approved for free or reduced-price lunches, 79 percent remained at the same school during the 2016–17 school year (“stayers”), 7 percent moved to a different school (“movers”), and 11 percent left the principalship (“leavers”).”

Encouraging More High School Students to Consider Teaching, ACT
“By far, the biggest challenge for teacher recruitment is starting salary. ‘Potentially’ interested students reported wanting a lower starting salary than students not interested in teaching; however, the starting salary would need to be increased to $50,000–59,000 to improve interest in teaching among the majority of these students.”

Coming Up

August 15: Florida Board of Education, Orlando

Aug. 17: Leon County Circuit Court, hearing on Amendment 8 (2018-CA-001523)

August 28: Primary election

Sept. 12-13: Florida Board of Governors, Sarasota

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