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  1. Florida

ICYMI: Florida education news roundup, week of Aug. 16

TOP OF THE TIMES

Lessons in Fear: Failure Factories Part II, Michael LaForgia and Lisa Gartner
Salimah Bullock started second grade at Campbell Park Elementary in the fall of 2013. She didn't make it 10 minutes before a classmate punched her in the face. Every day after that brought new threats. "They cursed at me, called me ugly and threatened to put their hands on me," Salimah said. Just months later, the 8-year-old got caught between two boys fighting.She left school that day in an ambulance.Salimah's story is about more than a kid who got beat up in class. It's about how violence has become a part of daily life in Pinellas County's most segregated elementary schools.
Officials announce stepped-up efforts after Times' Failure Factories schools investigation, Cara Fitzpatrick
Castor calls for federal review of Pinellas schools after 'Failure Factories', Cara Fitzpatrick

Bonus program has some Florida teachers telling the state: Keep your money, Jeffrey S. Solochek
The Best and Brightest Scholarship has come under heavy criticism, including from some of the lawmakers who approved it this summer as a late addition to the state budget. Many teachers have swallowed their disdain to put in for the bonus of up to $10,000. Their efforts have turned up a variety of logistical problems that districts, the state and testing companies are still working through. But a growing group is choosing not to dignify the program by bothering with the details.

Some Hillsborough schools have room to spare, but district keeps building, Marlene Sokol
As the Hillsborough County School District prepares to spend $54 million to build new schools and classroom wings, dozens of existing schools are operating well below capacity.

In a major shift, Hillsborough schools ease class size rules to address budget worries, Jeffrey S. Solochek
The Hillsborough school system, long a bastion of strict compliance with Florida class size rules, plans to abandon that philosophy this fall as leaders seek to save money.

State investigating Pinellas schools for possible class-size infractions, Jeffrey S. Solochek
The Pinellas County School District is under state investigation for using temporary teachers last fall to meet Florida's class-size requirements.

AROUND THE STATE

In South Florida, rethinking the computer game as a teaching tool, Miami Herald, Joey Flechas
"Christian Varona didn't rely on textbooks and slideshows to learn history. When it came to studying for daunting Advanced Placement tests, he didn't turn to a tutor, either. He just logged on to his computer and played some games."

Parents upset after former Fruitland Park cop ID'd as KKK member hired at school, WFTV.com
"The Fruitland Park deputy police chief who resigned after the FBI identified him as a Ku Klux Klan member was recently hired to work at a Sumter County school, but he didn't work there long."

Facing blowback, LePage administration quietly dissolved ties with Jeb Bush's education foundation, Portland Press Herald, Colin Woodard
"Jeb Bush, now running for the Republican presidential nomination, has made education reform the centerpiece of his political career. As governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, he championed what became known as the "Florida model," featuring vigorous testing, school vouchers, and creation of taxpayer-financed for-profit, nonprofit and virtual charter schools. He created the foundation in 2007 and used it to promote the Florida model in other states. At the height of its influence in Maine in 2012 and early 2013, the foundation shaped large portions of LePage's education agenda, including the successful introduction of virtual charter schools and the "A-F" grading of public schools. The collapse was sudden."

Image of single-gender schools is changing, but debate over merits of programs continues, Florida Times-Union, Rhema Thompson
"Virtue joins its male counterpart Valor Academy of Leadership middle and high schools as well as non-charter Butler Young Men's and Young Women's Leadership Academies - all of which have opened over the last year and all of which target the city's high-need areas. Recently, Duval Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti also announced a proposal to add a single-gender elementary school, S.P. Livingston, to that list in 2016-17. With each new school comes more hopes for boosting stubborn student performance rates, more options for parents and ultimately, more questions as to whether it's hurting or helping."

More elementary schools having students switch classrooms for different subjects, The Ledger, Sara Drumm
"Most of Polk County's elementary schools have been rearranging themselves this summer in an effort to boost test scores. The School District asked in June that the schools departmentalize for fifth grade, meaning fifth-grade students at those schools will have two or three teachers for different subjects."

REPORTS OF NOTE

Motivation Matters: How New Research Can Help Teachers Boost Student Engagement
Carnegie Foundation, Susan Headden and Sarah McKay
"Reaching the Common Core bar will require more effective instruction than many students have traditionally received, along with assessments aligned to the standards. But students will also require something else: the motivation to meet the Common Core demands."

Evaluation of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program Participation, Compliance and Test Scores in 2013-14, Carolyn D. Herrington, Florida State University

OTHER VIEWS

Low-income students will be hurt if scholarship program is destroyed, Florida Times-Union guest column, State Board of Education member Gary Chartrand
"Nearly a year into a lawsuit to evict 78,000 poor, mostly minority schoolchildren from their schools, we tend to forget that these deserving students aren't the only ones who will suffer if the teachers' union wins. So will public school districts. They'll get nailed in the pocketbook."

Legg: Teacher training needs to keep up with digital transformation, reDefined op-ed column, Florida Senate Education Chairman John Legg

School of thought: Florida schools are ripe for potential church-state violations, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Kate Bradshaw

Lawmakers finally consider tighter rules on charter schools, Rhonda Swan, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Homeschool Graduate Almost Shut out of College, HSLDA

How the "Seminole Solution" to fix Florida's overtesting problem could make high school science education better, Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow blog

DID YOU KNOW ...

... State testing in Florida begins with a round of end-of-course exams in September?

COMING UP

- Hillsborough schools superintendent Jeff Eakins will hold his back to school news conference at 10 a.m. Monday. Watch the webcast here.
- The Florida Board of Education meets Wednesday in Gainesville. See the agenda for details.

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