Florida education news in review, week of Dec. 2, 2018

A collection of news and views from the past week.
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran SCOTT KEELER | Times
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran SCOTT KEELER | Times
Published December 8 2018

Florida’s education commissioner resigned this week, and soon after incoming Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he wanted to pick his own department chief. But the State Board of Education has the statutory power to appoint the commissioner — not the governor. What’s the board to do? 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 [email protected].

Top of the Times

Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis picks Corcoran for education, Moskowitz for emergency management, Lawrence Mower
“Florida Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis wants former state House Speaker Richard Corcoran to be the state’s next education commissioner and Democratic lawmaker Jared Moskowitz to be the next director of the Division of Emergency Management, his transition team announced today. Corcoran, a fiery Republican who has pushed hard for charter schools, could become the ‘most disruptive education reformer in our state’s history,’ another Republican who was being considered for the job said this week.”
RELATED: Will Florida Board of Education accept a DeSantis appointee as commissioner?Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart resigns

Pasco school district proposes overhaul of offerings along US 19 corridor, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“Assistant superintendent Vanessa Hilton asked Pasco County School Board members to write down two numbers: 7,454 and 362. The former represented the number of students attending a dozen schools in a high-poverty, high-crime area along the U.S. 19 corridor of western Pasco County. The latter, the number of teachers and leaders working in those schools. … The administration is proposing a restructuring of those schools, in an initiative called Project RISE. It stands for Relevant Inspiring Supportive Experiences and calls for adding accelerated offerings, such as International Baccalaureate, into elementary through high school feeder patterns. It would create partnerships to provide other supports and services for children and families.”

He pointed a gun at a Hernando High student. Deputies talked to him minutes later. Why wasn’t he arrested right away?, Jack Evans
“Minutes after he admittedly pulled a gun on a teenager last week in the parking lot of Hernando High School, Robert Browsky stood in the school’s office, ready to air his own grievances.”

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

Around the State

Caps, gowns and metal detectors: PBC graduation to get security upgrade, Sonja Isger
“High school graduation is typically a cap and gown affair, but in Palm Beach County, education leaders are seeking to add standing metal detectors and bag searches into the mix by the time tassels turn in spring.”

After more allegations lodged against school, Mason Classical Academy mulling legal action, Naples Daily News, Devan Patel
“Five months after submitting a complaint to the Florida Department of Education, the former treasurer of Mason Classical Academy in Naples continues to make allegations of nefarious conduct by the public charter school.”

School shooting PR consultant apologizes after calling critics ‘crazies’ and reporter ‘skanky’, Sun-Sentinel, David Fleshler
“A crisis public relations consultant created a crisis of her own for the Broward school district, after a video came to light in which she dismissed the district’s critics in the Parkland massacre as ‘crazies’ and called a reporter a ‘skanky’ ‘jerk’ who ‘smells bad.’”

How race, age and party affected vote on PBC public schools’ tax hike, Palm Beach Post, Andrew Marra and Chris Persaud
“Any way you look at it, the tax-raising gambit put forward this year by Palm Beach County public schools proved a success. …  But enthusiasm for the tax increase – which will be used primarily to increase teacher pay and improve school safety – was hardly uniform. While voter enthusiasm was high in most places, some pockets of the county opposed the referendum.”

Other Views

Unqualified legislator to chair House education committee — nothing could go wrong there, eh?, Orlando Sentinel columnist Lauren Ritchie
“And in one of the most powerful spots — chair of the Florida House’s Education Committee — is Central Florida’s own Tea Party darling, Jennifer Sullivan. Sullivan, 27, a Mount Dora Republican whose district covers north Orange County and most of Lake, was home-schooled. She lived with her mom and worked as a tea room waitress and babysitter before she was elected. What little education she may have beyond a high school diploma is a muddle.”

Cheap and hostile is not the way to attract teachers in Florida, Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano
“What’s really at issue is classroom autonomy. For the better part of two decades, the know-it-alls in Tallahassee have made a crusade out of reforming schools. They’ve changed curriculum — repeatedly. They’ve demanded more standardized tests — and then demanded fewer. They’ve made a battle cry out of freedom and innovation at charter schools while at the same time handcuffing the great majority of public schools. The result is they’ve made schools less appealing to parents. And they’ve made the job less appealing to teachers.”

Arming teachers is a well-intentioned but ill-conceived idea, Sun-Sentinel guest column, former Broward County state attorney Philip Shailer
“Indeed, the best evidence of the folly of his proposal is the commission’s own finding that trained law-enforcement officers failed to properly perform during the tragedy – and this in spite of the fact that all sworn officers regularly log time at the range as well as practice in simulated ‘stress fire’ situations. Therefore, how can we possibly expect that full-time educators who are part-time ‘officers’ will perform any better?”

As Florida’s voucher-school problems grow, Arizona taps the brakes, Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell
“Now, I’ve never proposed halting Florida’s voucher program. I’ve called for basic accountability — five basic steps, including requirements for qualified teachers, verified background checks, regular school inspections and full disclosure of school curriculum and student scores on nationally accepted tests. This stuff is the bare minimum — standards that already exist for public schools and which many parents are shocked to learn don’t exist in voucher schools. … But since legislators refuse, maybe it’s time we take this to the streets — and the ballot box. That’s what motivated parents in Arizona’s Save Our Schools coalition.”

Reports of Note

Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2015–16 (Fiscal Year 2016) First Look, NCES
“Revenues and expenditures increased in public K-12 education for the third consecutive school year in 2015–16 (Fiscal Year 2016).”

Getting to Work on Summer Learning, RAND Corp.
“Launching a summer program is akin to starting a new school year, but with less time for planning and execution. A good planning process might be the most important characteristic of a strong program: It reduces logistical problems and increases instructional time for students.”

Coming Up

Week of Dec. 11: Legislative committee meetings

Dec. 12: Florida Senate Education Appropriations, 1:30 p.m.

Dec. 17: Florida Board of Education, conference call

Jan. 16, 2019: Florida Board of Education

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