ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Sept. 9, 2018

Hillsborugh County school superintendent Jeff Eakins speaks to a room full of teachers, administration and press during his 2018  back-to-school press conference at Valrico Elementary [BRONTE WITTPENN | Times]
Hillsborugh County school superintendent Jeff Eakins speaks to a room full of teachers, administration and press during his 2018 back-to-school press conference at Valrico Elementary [BRONTE WITTPENN | Times]
Published Sept. 15, 2018

School security remains a point of high concern for Florida schools. When it comes to funding, there’s talk of spending more. Yet when the idea of giving school districts flexibility in deciding how to use the money, there’s not too much flexibility in Tallahassee. Read on for that and more news. •  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

Top of the Times

For Hillsborough voters, a question: How good has the school district been with your money?, Marlene Sokol
“At a Ballast Point church this Tuesday, Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins will do something he held off doing for three years. He will ask the public to trust him with more of their money.”

Florida Board of Education explores flexibility for school guardian funding, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“Taking a lead from Gov. Rick Scott, Florida Board of Education member Michael Olenick on Friday pushed his colleagues to offer school districts flexibility in how they spend money set aside for security in the state budget.”
RELATED: Florida Board of Education to consider budget request with no change in tax rates

What’s the holdup with Florida’s federal ESSA accountability plan?, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“Florida officials have made yet another attempt to win approval for their federal education accountability plan, submitting revisions on both June 6 — a day after receiving a negative status update — and again Aug. 24 after the June proposal was not approved.”

After graduates were forced offstage, UF changed commencement. Nearly 10,000 signed a petition to protest., Gabrielle Calise
“During commencement at the University of Florida, family members and friends booed as an usher used physical force to rush more than 20 dancing graduates across the stage. It didn’t take long for the videos of the man grabbing and shoving students to go viral. UF President W. Kent Fuchs issued an apology, and during the summer a commencement task force and members of the administration brainstormed a fix for future graduations. The solution? Split graduation into two ceremonies.”

Visit for more education news from the Times staff.

Around the State

Parkland students relive trauma as fire alarms shriek over and over, Sun-Sentinel, Lois K. Solomon
“At least nine alarms have gone off since school started Aug. 15; only three had been planned. On some days, it’s been two in one day, the same pattern as the day when a 19-year-old former student gunned down 17 people in the halls and classrooms of Stoneman Douglas.”

Volusia County teachers vexed at district move to take old printers from classrooms, Daytona Beach News-Journal, Cassidy Alexander
“Outrage and indignation from teachers. A 90-minute grilling at a Volusia County School Board meeting. The announcement that teachers will stop doing any work they aren’t contractually obligated to do. All of these recent events can be traced back, at least partially, to the same issue: printers.”

Thanks to e-cigarettes, students are smoking in class. Miami Beach wants it to stop., Miami Herald, Kyra Gurney and Colleen Wright
“At Miami Beach Senior High, electronic cigarettes have become almost as ubiquitous as Instagram and Snapchat. Teens skip class to inhale liquid nicotine in the bathroom, vape at lunch, and even sneak puffs in class while the teacher’s back is turned, according to students and parents.”

PBC mayor blasts Forest Hill High for ‘sexism’ over daughter’s torn jeans, Andrew Marra
“Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay is calling for the school district to discipline a Forest Hill High School official who she says removed her daughter from classes Thursday for wearing torn jeans, then lectured her to consider male classmates’ hormones when dressing.”

Other Views

As school threats increase, how far will we go to crack down?, TC Palm columnist Gil Smart
“School and law enforcement officials stress the importance of talking to kids about the issue. Florida law makes it a second-degree felony to post shooting or terrorism threats online, even if it’s intended as a joke. Yet this advice isn’t enough, as the problem is getting worse.”

It’s elected vs. appointed — again, Ocala Star-Banner editorial
“While the elected vs. appointed [superintendent] question has been bandied about almost continuously for the past couple of decades, the myriad problems and challenges facing the Marion County Public Schools certainly make the debate timely. With 11 schools on the state’s watch list and too many other schools showing decline in performance, some believe a professional administrator would be a positive toward fixing what is wrong with our schools.”

Making public schools everyone’s priority, Gainesville Sun guest column, Alachua County PTA legislative chair Megan Hendricks
“Public schools are part of the community, and it will take a community of citizens and volunteers to build a solution. Each school is focused on learning gains for every student. Now, Terwilliger Elementary is a target of the state system. Join us in working to protect public education as if the existence of your child’s school depended on it.”

Teacher turnover is a problem – here’s how to fix it, Associated Press commentary, University of Florida assistant professor Christopher Redding
“A study that I conducted with Vanderbilt education professor Gary Henry shows that losing a teacher during the school year is linked with a loss of between 32 and 72 instructional days. That’s anywhere from one-sixth to close to half of the entire school year. The reason teacher turnover is associated with such a heavy loss of instructional time is largely a result of the disruption it causes students and other school staff.”

Six Reasons Conservatives Should Believe the Defeat of Amendment 8 Was Correct, Sunshine State News guest column, Karen Effrem of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition
“The truth is that there were many Floridians who opposed Amendment 8 specifically and are concerned about the rapid expansion of charter schools for conservative reasons.”

Schools need resources, not “school resource officers”, Tallahassee Democrat guest column, Lidwina Bell of the Institute for Policy Studies
“The very students SROs are supposed to protect are often the ones most harmed. In addition to referring kids to the juvenile justice system, SROs have been repeatedly filmed violently mistreating black and brown girls in particular. That’s why many students say SROs aren’t the answer to school shootings.”

Reports of Note

Language Experience in the Second Year of Life and Language Outcomes in Late Childhood, Pediatrics
“[E]arly talk and interaction, particularly during the relatively narrow developmental window of 18 to 24 months of age, can be used to predict school-age language and cognitive outcomes. With these findings, we underscore the need for effective early intervention programs that support parents in creating an optimal early language learning environment in the home.”

The Digital Divide and Educational Equity, ACT Center for Equity in Learning
“Underserved students have access to fewer devices and lower-quality internet than students who are not disadvantaged. Inequitable access to electronic devices and effective internet connections contributes to opportunity, achievement and equity gaps in education.”

“We reviewed the 629 charter school 2016-17 fiscal year audit reports filed with us through May 31, 2018, and noted that, although the audit reports for 540 charter schools contained no audit findings, the audit reports for 89 charter schools included a total of 161 findings.”

Coming Up

Oct. 25: Florida Board of Education, Crystal River

Nov. 6: General election

Nov. 7-8: Florida Board of Governors, Florida Atlantic University

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