ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Aug. 5, 2018

[Bronte Wittpenn | Times]
[Bronte Wittpenn | Times]
Published August 11 2018

Is there lead in your child’s school water supply? In Hillsborough County, the answer was yes — but they didn’t tell parents for a year. Now the news is coming out, and people aren’t thrilled.  • 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

The Hillsborough School District found lead in its water. It didn’t tell parents for a year., Corey G. Johnson, Marlene Sokol, Eli Murray
“The Hillsborough County School District didn’t tell parents for more than a year that it was discovering high levels of lead in some schools’ drinking water, a Tampa Bay Times investigation has found.”
DATABASE: School by school results

A school board campaign gets rough: ‘Let’s meet face to face … big boy!’, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“A former Pasco County high school student has received a menacing Facebook message from an account bearing the name of School Board candidate Kenny Mathis. The student had joined former classmates in sharing social media recollections of Mathis’ hot temper while he was a Pasco music teacher, and suggested he had no place on the board. He soon received an apparent physical threat via Facebook Messenger from an account containing Mathis’ name and photo.”

Supreme Court should hold state responsible for high quality public schools, plaintiffs argue, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“Plaintiffs in Florida’s long-running education equity lawsuit have urged the state Supreme Court not to fall for the state’s effort to evade constitutional responsibility for an ‘efficient’ and ‘high quality’ public school system.”

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

Around the State

Florida county tries unconventional approach to deal with massive teacher shortage, CBS This Morning
Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd “is taking a new and unconventional approach. Just two years ago, she began working with Polk State College and the school’s president, Angela Falconetti, to create a teaching academy. The program allows sophomores in high school to take teacher education classes which count toward their high school and college degree. By the time they graduate, they’ll have their associates degree, and a full teaching degree two years later.”

Florida locals taxing themselves to cover shortfalls from state cuts in education and transportation funding, Florida Phoenix, Mitch Perry
“For years, Republican lawmakers in Tallahassee have boasted about Florida’s charms as a low-tax state, and according to a recent report, Sunshine State residents do have the lowest tax burden in the continental United States (trailing only Alaska nationwide.) But with more than 21 million people in the state and hundreds more coming by the day, the math simply isn’t adding up when it comes to the state paying for critical services like public education and transportation. How else to explain the fact that more than 15 counties in Florida have referendums on ballots either this month or in November to raise local taxes?”

VPK ‘readiness’ test faces growing scrutiny, Herald-Tribune, Ryan McKinnon
“As the 2018-19 VPK year begins, the adjustment period is over and there are no more second chances. VPK providers this year are expected to get their 4-year old students ‘kindergarten ready’ for a test that they will take when they start school in 2019. If 60 percent of their students don’t pass the test, providers will face probation — which can require purchasing new curriculum, retraining staff and deal a major hit to a center’s reputation. But increasingly influential voices are saying the problem doesn’t lie with the providers, but with the test itself.”

Stoneman Douglas will be patrolled by 18 security personnel in new school year, Sun-Sentinel, Lois K. Solomon
“Despite numerous stumbles in the months since the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, officials say the campus will be secure and offer a robust learning atmosphere when school starts next week.”

Florida Wants To Help Bullied Kids — Unless They’re Gay, Huffington Post, Rebecca Klein
“A new anti-bullying program in Florida sounds so good on paper. The first of its kind in the nation, it gives public money to kids who have been victims of bullying and helps them attend private school. Florida Gov. Scott (R) touted it as an example of government stepping in to do good. … The only problem is, not all victims are welcome. For some private schools participating in the program, LGBTQ students need not apply.”

Other Views

Should Central Florida transgender students choose their bathrooms?, Orlando Sentinel column, David Whitley
“About 1.5 million people in the U.S. identify as transgender. They feel as awkward using a bathroom that doesn’t match their gender as a straight female would using a men’s room. But millions of Americans believe they should be able to use a public bathroom and everyone in there will be members of the sex they were at birth. When that tug-of-war is played out with people’s children, a “case-by-case basis” might not work.”

As teachers, we need to be able to lock classroom door, Fort Myers News-Press column, teacher Jennifer Tomlinson
“We can lock ourselves inside our homes, cars and workplaces, but there’s one place where that same sense of security is lost: The Lee County School District. The vast majority of school employees and school children in Lee County spend about eight hours a day in classrooms and offices that cannot be locked from the inside and are connected to other classrooms and offices with exterior doors. In order to lock the door when safety is in question, teachers must step out into the hallway, putting themselves and everyone inside the classroom at risk.”

Florida law requiring students to inform school districts on mental health history is problematic, Orlando Sentinel column, Shannon Green
“Has student ever been referred to mental health services? This is quite possibly the most loaded question any parent has been forced to answer on a school registration form. It’s also the most loaded question school districts have been forced to ask.”

Reports of Note

Strengthening Reading Instruction through Better Preparation of Elementary and Special Education Teachers, NCTQ
“Florida’s required Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE) Elementary Education test assesses the science of reading, but integrates this topic with too many other topics related to English Language Arts to serve as a reliable measure of a candidate’s knowledge of the science of reading. A stand-alone test is needed.”

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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