ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Dec. 10, 2018

A collection of news and views from the past week.
The Florida Board of Education meets in Pinellas County on May 16, 2018. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
The Florida Board of Education meets in Pinellas County on May 16, 2018. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Published December 15 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 jsolochek@tampabay.com.

Top of the Times

Commissioner appointment on tap for Florida Board of Education, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“The possible confirmation of former Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran as the state’s next education commissioner appears on a fast track. The Board of Education, which left its October 25 session with no plans to convene again until after the new year, has posted a three-item agenda for a Dec. 17 morning business meeting in Tallahassee.”
RELATED: Florida education deserves better than Richard Corcoran, home county teachers union leader says

Students failed, teachers left, parents complained. Now John Hopkins Middle has a new principal., Megan Reeves
“Trouble has been brewing for awhile at John Hopkins, according to student performance data and interviews with teachers and parents. But it wasn’t until this week that Pinellas County school officials stepped in to remove Dallas Jackson as principal.”

Once a leader, Florida lags nation in new National Board certified teachers, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“Florida has four new National Board certified teachers this year. That ranks it tied for 41st nationally, alongside Ohio and New Jersey. Only New Hampshire, Nebraska and Connecticut had fewer. What makes this number, reported this week by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, remarkable is that not too long ago, Florida led the nation in certifications.”

Soon, more than half of Florida’s adjunct professors could belong to a union, Megan Reeves
“Adjunct professors at St. Petersburg College and six other institutions in Florida filed to unionize this week, joining many others across the state in fighting for better working conditions and pay. Now, more than half — about 9,000 — of the state’s adjunct instructors are either already represented by a union or organizing toward that, according to the Service Employees International Union. The ratio is even higher in the Tampa Bay area, at 63 percent.”

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

Around the State

Coming Soon to Florida: More Challenges for Districts’ Science Curricula?, Education Week, Stephen Sawchuk
“Newly elected Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed the members of his transition team for education—and on it are two people linked to efforts to weaken the teaching of evolution and climate change, among other topics.”

Why Victims’ Families Are Seething Over Broward Schools’ Handling of the Parkland Shooting, Education Week, Benjamin Herold
“In early June, Andrew Pollack returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, furious.         On Valentine’s Day, his daughter, 18-year-old Meadow Pollack, had been murdered inside the school, victim to a shooting rampage that left 17 dead and 17 wounded. During the months that followed, Pollack’s grief had merged with a combustible anger. Much of it was directed at the Broward County Public Schools.”

Teachers need guns; schools need security, Parkland shooting panel concludes, Sun-Sentinel, Skyler Swisher and David Fleshler
“Armed teachers, stronger security and better law enforcement are needed to head off another school shooting like the one in Parkland, according to a panel reviewing the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.”

Miami-Dade Schools, teachers union make a pay deal capped by surprise bonus in January, Miami Herald, Colleen Wright
“After schools let out and day turned to night outside school district headquarters, school officials and teachers union delegates stayed behind, holding back tears of joy. Never before had Miami-Dade County Public Schools and United Teachers of Dade negotiated with over $200 million for instructional personnel — a sum generously approved by voters who said yes to paying more in taxes, largely for teacher pay.”

Other Views

Rest in peace, public education, St. Augustine Record editorial
“Let’s not beat around the political bush: Putting former House Speaker Richard Corcoran in charge of Florida education is like hiring Genghis Khan to head the state Department of Corrections.”

Please watch the Mike Dunn shooting video, Sheriff Gualtieri: the unbalanced risk equation of arming teachers, Polk County School Board member Billy Townsend’s blog
“If I were a teacher faced with an AR-15-armed person on a rampage in my classroom, I would want a weapon in my hand. I understand that. However, that weapon wouldn’t magically appear in my hand at that exact moment. It will have to be attached to me, among my kids and peers, at all times leading to that moment, which math dictates will almost certainly never come. That gun, attached to a human being among children in a confined space, poses its own threat at all times. That is the core conundrum of all of this. We have to think about it seriously.”

State Improvement Begins with School Improvement, Governing op-ed, Dale Chu, former chief of staff to the Florida education commissioner
“The midterm elections ushered in twenty new governors who will join a class of state executives to face a vexing conundrum: harvesting the fruits of rapid technological progress as these same advancements threaten to displace millions of Americans from the workforce. Theories abound as to how the country can keep pace, but one thing remains certain — any potential solution must include the demanding work of improving the nation’s schools.”

Will Shifting English Learning Accountability to Schools Work?, The Century Foundation commentary, Conor P. Williams
“Now that all fifty states and the District of Columbia have received formal federal approval of their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans, the work of implementing the 2015 law — the United States’ primary K–12 education investment—is fully underway. As that work continues, however, advocates for educational equity should keep close eye on ways that ESSA’s structure creates new, unforeseen challenges for historically underserved students. This is particularly true as far as English learners (ELs) are concerned, given that ESSA made significant changes to how schools are held accountable for these students’ performance. Specifically, there is some evidence that ESSA’s shift of EL accountability from the district to the school level could make these students less of a priority for many schools.”

Reports of Note

America’s Child Care Deserts in 2018, Center for American Progress
“Hispanics/Latinos are the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the United States; one-quarter of all children in the United States are Hispanic/Latino, and they are projected to constitute one-third of the child population by 2050. Yet these families are more likely to live in areas with fewer child care options. All approaches to increasing the supply of child care in America will need to remedy the fact that child care seems to be consistently harder to find in communities with a high concentration of Hispanics/Latinos.”

Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2018, National Center for Education Statistics
“Among 25- to 34-year-olds in the labor force, the unemployment rate for high school dropouts (13 percent) was higher than the unemployment rate of those whose highest level of educational attainment was a high school credential (9 percent). In addition, dropouts age 25 and older were reported being in worse health than adults who were not dropouts, regardless of income (Pleis, Ward, and Lucas 2010). Dropouts also make up disproportionately higher percentages of the nation’s institutionalized population.”

Coming Up

Dec. 17: Florida Board of Education, 10 a.m., Tallahassee

Week of Jan. 7: Legislative committees will meet

Jan. 16, 2019: Florida Board of Education

Jan. 30-31: Florida Board of Governors, Florida International University

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