1. Florida

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Sept.4, 2016

Published Sep. 9, 2016

Florida school children returned to school this week after a 5-day weekend provided courtesy of Hurricane Hermine and Labor Day. Their time off made for a relatively quiet week of education news. Still, some issues continued to surface, including a rise of homeless students, angst among parents faced with school boundary changes, and the move by one large district to begin collecting classroom portfolios for all third graders. Get the latest Florida education news daily on the Gradebook.

Homeless students don't always raise their hands for help, so districts work to find them, Colleen Wright
"It's Day 4 of the new school year, and the clamor has quieted. Students are settling into their routines, finding classes, memorizing schedules. For thousands of them, school may be the most stable part of their day. In Portable F at Bayside High near St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, the seven women who make up the Pinellas County School District's homeless education task force have already started to count: 1,179 homeless students identified in just the first week of school, the highest number in the Tampa Bay area."

Hillsborough set to close online academy, citing 'mismanagement' and 'neglect', Marlene Sokol
"With a vote today, the Hillsborough County School Board is expected to close an online charter school after district administrators found a long list of deficiencies that they said amounted to 'gross neglect.'"

Pasco braces for outcry as officials consider changes to school zones, Jeffrey S. Solochek
Mel Freeman strode to the podium Tuesday to let the Pasco County School Board know just how angry he was. He had recently moved his family to the bustling Trinity area of west Pasco, specifically to get his son into well-regarded Mitchell High. But now that opportunity is in doubt, he said, because the board plans to draw new attendance zones for the rapidly growing school. 'I just want the people who are making the decisions to understand the impacts they are having on some peoples' lives,' he told the board. 'I'm very upset about this.'"

Indicted charter school management company, Newpoint, blames its problems on 'misinformation', Colleen Wright
"Now, after families have moved on (Newpoint Pinellas Academy is still in operation under an appeal), Newpoint has risen from the dead. Newpoint, according to its updated website, maintains its innocence and posted information to counter 'misinformation and unanswered questions in circulation about what is going on with Newpoint Education Partners.' There are many, many things that are blatantly false on Newpoint's website."

Orange will compile reading portfolios for all 3rd graders during year, Orlando Sentinel, Leslie Postal
"The Orange County school district will embed reading passages and questions that meet Florida's portfolio requirements into lessons given to all third graders, Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said Tuesday. The new procedure responds to a judge's pointed criticism of the district in the third-grade retention case that pitted families opposed to high-stakes testing against six school districts and the Florida Department of Education."

Marline Van Dyke transferred 'on special assignment', Northwest Florida Daily News, Leah Johnson
"A week after Okaloosa County Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson defeated Edwins Elementary Principal Marline Van Dyke in the race for superintendent, Van Dyke finds herself 'transferred on special assignment,' School Board documents show."

These 2,000 kids are at highest risk to shoot or be shot, Miami Herald, Kyra Gurney and Carli Teproff
"Three weeks into the school year in Miami-Dade, a fourth-grader and two teenagers have already been killed by gun violence. It's a grim reality that in some of Miami's poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods, elementary school students have been struck down on their own doorsteps, playing outside and on the way to the movies. For older kids, the risk of getting caught up in gun violence - either as perpetrators or victims - is even greater."

New teacher evaluation system doesn't change much, Orlando Sentinel, Leslie Postal
"Calling it a 'game changer,' Florida leaders made a sweeping overhaul of teacher evaluations in 2011, tying those reviews to student test scores in a push to boost educator quality and, in turn, student achievement. But by the numbers, the new evaluations have led to little change."

Deadbeat debt collectors?, Palm Beach Post, Andrew Marra
"Last year, Palm Beach County's public schools hired a collection agency to track down parents who write bad checks. But now educators say it's the collection agency that's bouncing checks."

Why aren't you volunteering at a public school?, Palm Beach Post columnist Rick Christie
"Here's a back-to-school message: Public schools need public support."

Second-grader kicked out of charter school easy as A,B,C, Herald-Tribune columnist Tom Lyons
"One big advantage for tax-supported charter school is that they need not follow the many rules that public schools are bound by. But that is also a big disadvantage, as Jeff and Jennifer Buck just learned this the hard way. Unfortunately, they say, it is their second-grader, Cooper, who is being hurt."

Charter schools excel, despite inequities, Sun-Sentinel guest column, Pembroke Pines commissioner Angelo Castillo
"We see constant press coverage about failing charter schools without mention of why they failed, leaving a false impression that charter schools can't perform. In fact, charters are overwhelmingly high-performing despite the unfair financial stresses imposed by school districts. We hear school district officials say charters should be reformed and meet higher standards, even as they support financially unfair policies that often cause many of these so-called failures. How about creating a fair playing field? Then we can talk about one set of standards or rules."

Charter schools: the new segregation?, El Nuevo Herald guest column, Emilio J. Sanchez (translated)
"The charter school is a hybrid between public school and private. It receives funding from state and federal government; It is free, but largely managed by a private entity that does not necessarily follow government regulations. It is not subjected to public scrutiny and installs private boards that often work in the strictest secrecy. The most singular: they choose their students, which represents, in fact, a potential discrimination."

Summary of 20 years of research on the effectiveness of adolescent literacy programs and practices, Florida Center for Reading Research at Florida State University
"Thirty-three studies of adolescent literacy programs and practices published over the last 20 years were identified as having a rigorous research design from which causal implications could be drawn. Of these 33 studies, 12 were identified as having positive or potentially positive effects on reading comprehension, vocabulary, or general literacy. Most of the 12 identified programs and practices demonstrating positive or potentially positive effects included explicit instruction in reading comprehension, explicit instruction in vocabulary, instructional routines, cooperative learning, feedback, fluency building, or writing."

Inhibiting Connection: State policy impacting expansion of municipal broadband networks, Education Commission of the States
"Laws in more than 20 states prohibit or restrict local governments from building their own broadband networks. ... In three states - Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee - public providers are only permitted to provide services within their service limits or territory. In addition, some states like Florida, Louisiana and Utah require a feasibility study or proof of profitability."

Preventing Missed Opportunity: Taking Collective Action to Confront Chronic Absence, Attendance Works
"The recent release of the first-ever national data set on chronic absence by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) reveals that this promise of an equal opportunity to learn is being broken for far too many children. More than 6.5 million students, or about 13 percent, miss three or more weeks of school, which is enough time to erode their achievement and threaten their chance of graduating. More than half of those chronically absent students are in elementary or middle school. Students from communities of color (African American, Native American, Pacific Islander and Latino) as well as with learning disabilities were disproportionately affected."