Florida sees first graduation rate decline in 16 years

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Graduates stream into the Florida State Fairgrounds’ Expo Hall while participating in the Class of 2022’s Hillsborough Virtual K-12 Commencement Ceremony on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Tampa.
Graduates stream into the Florida State Fairgrounds’ Expo Hall while participating in the Class of 2022’s Hillsborough Virtual K-12 Commencement Ceremony on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Tampa. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Jan. 17

The big story: Florida’s graduation rate dropped for the first time since 2006.

The declines were slight, and the state offered a plausible explanation: The prior two years’ worth of graduates didn’t have to meet all the testing requirements that had been in place before the pandemic.

The Class of 2022 did have to pass those exams again, though they didn’t have to attain higher scores the state had put in place but then waived. School district officials tried to highlight the positive notes in their results, while acknowledging the dip. Read more here.

Hot topics

New College: Calling the liberal arts honors college “woke,” Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed six conservatives to the 13-member board of trustees with the goal of redefining New College. Students are pushing back against the idea of making their school more like private Christian Hillsdale College in Michigan. • Conservative college shakeups are taking place across the nation, USA Today reports.

University diversity: A federal judge ruled that the DeSantis administration was not in violation of an injunction against implementing a new law on teaching about race, when it asked colleges and universities to provide information about their diversity and inclusion programs, the News Service of Florida reports.

Superintendents: The Sarasota County School Board could appoint an interim superintendent at its next meeting, as it prepares to look for a full-time leader, the Herald-Tribune reports. • Six people have applied to become the next Broward County schools superintendent, if Vickie Cartwright leaves, the Sun-Sentinel reports. The School Board is scheduled to decide Cartwright’s fate on Jan. 24, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Members gave her 90 days to improve her performance.

Gender issues: A Boca Raton girl who won her high school homecoming king crown a few months ago said she won’t let talk of expanding Florida’s law limiting instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation deter her, WPTV reports. • At least four other states have followed Florida’s lead in proposing legislation limiting the teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation, The National Desk reports. • Wyoming lawmakers are the latest to follow the trend, Cowboy State Daily reports.

Teacher pay: Representatives for Osceola County teachers and the school district remain at odds over pay, with the union asking for 8.7% raises and the district offering $1,000 one-time bonuses, Spectrum 13 reports.

School security: The Leon County state attorney said he will increase efforts to prosecute students who bring weapons to schools or make threats of violence, WFSU reports.

Turnaround schools: The Escambia County school district appears to have reached an agreement to have Charter Schools USA take over operations of long-struggling Warrington Middle, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Mental health services: The Bay County school district will receive $7.5 million over five years to increase its mental health offerings for students, the Panama City News Herald reports.

Other school news

Some Marion County parents are raising questions about permission slips. They want to know why their schools request permission for children to receive certain lessons, such as the Black national anthem, but not others, such as the Holocaust, WOFL reports.

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Miami-Dade County schools have seen a surge in enrollment. The largest increase is students migrating from Cuba, Venezuela, Haiti and Nicaragua, the Miami Herald reports.

Polk County School Board members learned their district is 995th nationally in per-student funding. The district is the 24th largest in the nation, Lakeland Now reports.

A Palm Beach County school district advisory panel has recommended boundaries for a new high school. It took the group seven tries, WPTV reports.

From the police blotter ... A Pasco County elementary school teacher was arrested on accusations of pushing a student into a desk. The teacher resigned. • A Franklin County teacher was placed on leave after being accused by the sheriff of exposing herself to an inmate on a video call, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Before you go ... Mel Brooks is still going strong at 96, putting together History of the World Part 2. It airs on Hulu this spring. Can’t wait.

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