ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Jan. 7, 2019

A collection of news and views from the past week.
Steve Jordan, 10, at left, RJ Cywinski, 11, Jessica Debiana Aguilar, 9, Deashia Tubbs, 9, and Izabella Vazquez, 10, talked about their experiences during Hurricane Michael at Parker Elementary School in Panama City. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Steve Jordan, 10, at left, RJ Cywinski, 11, Jessica Debiana Aguilar, 9, Deashia Tubbs, 9, and Izabella Vazquez, 10, talked about their experiences during Hurricane Michael at Parker Elementary School in Panama City. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Published January 12

The Florida Legislature returned to Tallahassee, bringing with it some hot button education policy issues such as school board term limits, campus security, and taxation — not to mention  a proposal to require public schools offer Bible classes. 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. Would you like to get this weekly roundup or other updates via email? Send a note to jsolochek@tampabay.com.

Top of the Times

Kids share Hurricane Michael stories: ‘We were crawling through the trees and jumping’, Kathryn Varn
“They worried about their pets, their toys, Wi-Fi. They were scared sometimes, or nervous, or just plain bored. They are the young survivors of Hurricane Michael, kids who witnessed one of the strongest storms on record ravage the place they call home. Months after the October storm, residents of Bay County — the epicenter of the destruction — were still grappling with piles of debris, job loss and limited housing, forcing some to relocate. But by November, schools had reopened for the kids who remained, including nine fourth- and fifth-graders at Parker Elementary School who sat down in December to tell their storm stories.”

Debate over school board term limits to return to Florida Legislature, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“Florida voters who want to limit the length of time school board members serve in office might get their chance in 2020.”

Florida Senate lays groundwork for ‘tweaks’ to school security law, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“As lawmakers look into various aspects of the rules, including recommendations from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, some members of the public let them know that one item in particular is in their sights. ‘Arming teachers is not the way to go,’ Gay Valimont of Moms Demand Action told the committee during public comment.”

Another Florida teachers union declares impasse in contract negotiations, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“Indian River’s move comes just weeks after the Brevard Federation of Teachers declared impasse in its talks. Expectations are that United School Employees of Pasco leaders will take a similar step later in January, if their next set of talks do not yield results.”
RELATED: Pinellas teachers reach tentative agreement on raises, working conditions, Megan Reeves

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

Around the State

Racial disparity in school examined, WXTL
“For the 2017- 2018 school year, Florida suspended more than (one-hundred- 44-thousand) 144,000 students. Of those students, 63 percent were black or Hispanic. And in Leon County, that percentage is about the same…. Many parents say they have noticed the disparity and are calling for a change. Meanwhile, organizations around town are trying to help the children remained focused and in class.”

Florida legislation to allow guns on college campuses is back. Will it pass this year?, Orlando Sentinel, Steven Lemongello
“A freshman GOP legislator from Lake County has revived a bill that would allow some people to carry guns on college campuses — a proposal that has split his party in the past.”

Bill would mandate Bible study classes in public high schools, Florida Politics, A.G. Gancarski
“Rep. Kim Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat known for championing legislation that brings religion into public schools, filed legislation Tuesday mandating high school-level Bible study electives.”

How will school board handle call to sanction its longest-serving member?, Palm Beach Post, Andrew Marra
“A threat that Palm Beach County School Board member Debra Robinson made about a radio station in August has put her fellow board members in an awkward position. Do school board members move to sanction their longest-serving member for allegedly violating the board’s own ethics code, as an inspector general who investigated the incident recommended this week? Or does the board decide the matter is outside its purview and keep mum, as the board’s chairman believes best?”

Virtual school gives displaced students options for education, Panama City News Herald, Genevieve Smith
“When Hurricane Michael rendered many local school campuses unusable, students across the district jumped online to avoid falling behind.”

Governor DeSantis suspends Okaloosa County’s Mary Beth Jackson, Northwest Florida Daily News, Tom McLaughlin
“Gov. Ron DeSantis has suspended Okaloosa County School Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson and named Assistant Superintendent Marcus Chambers to replace her.”
RELATED DOCUMENTS: Governor’s Executive Order and the Education Commissioner’s recommendation

Other Views

The Florida Legislature’s worrisome Bible bill, Sun-Sentinel editorial
“There are many good reasons to teach comparative religion, given the worsening climate of bigotry in this country. Indeed, many groups that defend the separation of church and state — including such faith-based organizations as the Baptist Joint Committee and the American Jewish Congress — encourage such instruction. As written, however, the bill is vague and open to the question of whether it’s simply another attempt at Bible study, a subject best taught in houses of worship and family homes.”

Hold students accountable for actions on social media, Gainesville Sun guest column, Alachua County high school senior Sophia Speights
“School boards need to be allowed to punish students if their posts are harmful toward the school, students or faculty. I think that all schools should have a contract with each student, outside of the normal school handbook, that states specific rules pertaining to social media use.”

What is a school officer’s appropriate role?, Herald-Tribune columnist Carrie Seidman
“Last week I received an email that reinforced that reticence and made me question even more whether the millions of dollars we are spending on upping security on our school campuses could be doing more harm than good.”

Florida’s disabled students show absurdity of K-12 apocalypse talk, Redefined columnist Matthew Ladner
“[T]oday I’ll attempt to demonstrate that expanding educational opportunities however represents a strategy to in fact achieve a ‘high quality system of free public schools.’  Furthermore, it seems to be working.”

A teacher’s perspective on the call to carry guns, Sun-Sentinel guest column, Broward County teacher Sarah Leonardi
“The actions now being taken are reactionary and disingenuous. They reek of a concern with appearance over the concern with efficacy.”

Reports of Note

Selective Retention Bonuses for Highly Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools: Evidence from Tennessee, Economics of Education Review
“To examine whether students in high poverty schools benefit from retention of highly effective teachers, we use differences in eligibility for schools to offer bonuses and the discrete timing of the program in a matched sample, difference-in-differences framework. Results indicate that schools who offered SRBs saw greater test score gains in subsequent years, especially on state reading exams.”

Policy Snapshot: Career and Technical Education, Education Commission of the States
“Research suggests that quality career and technical education (CTE) programs in high school can support students in building foundational technical skills, gaining practical experience and laying the foundation for future pursuits in postsecondary education and their careers.1 State policymakers continue to seek ways their states can educate and train secondary students, so they graduate equipped to pursue postsecondary education or to meet the growing demand for a well-educated and skilled workforce. Throughout the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions, states enacted secondary CTE policy.”

“While we are making overall progress on broadband, many rural schools lack affordable broadband access often due to lack of broadband competition. Rural districts account for half of all districts with zero or one broadband provider under E-rate Category 1. This matters because rural students are being left behind compared to their urban and suburban counterparts. Policy makers and educators need to stay focused on continuing efforts to provide affordable broadband access to all students, especially in rural communities.”

Coming Up

Jan. 16: Florida Board of Education, 10 a.m. (EST), Pensacola State College

Jan. 22-24: Education Practices Commission, West Palm Beach

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

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The latest: Funding, security top Florida education priority list in 2019

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