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Vouchers benefit existing private school students most

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
 
Florida and other states are finding that their growth in taxpayer-funded vouchers have largely gone to students already attending private schools, rather than to children transferring out of public education.
Florida and other states are finding that their growth in taxpayer-funded vouchers have largely gone to students already attending private schools, rather than to children transferring out of public education. [ JOE BURBANK | Orlando Sentinel ]
Published Oct. 6, 2023

The big story: Proponents of expanding school voucher programs argued that children struggling in public education would benefit with greater opportunities afforded to them.

The reality in Florida and other states that grew their state-funded education options this year is the majority of students taking advantage of the offer were already in private or home schools. And Florida led the way.

Almost 70% of Florida children awarded new vouchers this academic year did not attend public schools last year, according to the state’s main scholarship funding organization. Iowa’s newly expanded program saw about 60% of students come from private education programs. Read more from Education Week.

Hot topics

Teacher pay: Negotiators for Pinellas County teachers and the school district were $4 million apart in their contract talks a week ago. They reached a deal on pay and benefits late Thursday. • The Palm Beach County School Board approved average raises of 7% for teachers, who still must ratify the agreement, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • A survey of South Florida teachers revealed that financial security is among their biggest concerns, WTVJ reports.

Superintendents: Moms for Liberty claimed to flip 17 school boards nationally last year, including seven in Florida. Half of those boards dumped their sitting superintendents, The 74 reports. • Lee County superintendent Christopher Bernier announced he will not seek election to the post after his contract expires, WGCU reports. The district is transitioning back to an elected superintendent after a voter referendum on the issue.

Sex education: Several states including Florida are adopting laws that are diminishing sex education, the Associated Press reports.

Security: The Polk County school district will inquire about job applicants’ arrests in addition to convictions, as they revamp their hiring process, Lakeland Now reports.

Legal counsel: Flagler County School Board members are looking into ways to dump their lawyer while still allowing her to work for the superintendent, Flagler Live reports.

Hurricane recovery: Two Bay County schools remain closed five years after Hurricane Michael, without concrete plans for their future, WJHG reports.

Discipline: Five Orange County middle schools have hired student advocates to help struggling students manage their behavior and address the causes behind it, WKMG reports. • A working group has begun looking into how the Brevard County school district can improve the discipline section of its code of conduct, Florida Today reports.

Classroom materials: Parents at a Miami-Dade County charter school are demanding action after a teacher played an NR horror movie for fourth graders, WFOR reports.

Charter schools: A prominent Republican state lawmaker has filed legislation to allow cities to take steps to convert public schools in their jurisdiction to charter schools, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. • Pasco County school district officials are growing frustrated at the limited options they have to deal with charter schools in violation of their contracts.

In higher ed

Activists Chrisley Carpio, third-left, with Laura Rodriguez, fourth-left, Lauren Pineiro, fifth-left, and their attorney Michelle Lambo, right, speaks, during a press conference outside the George E. Edgecomb Courthouse on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in Tampa.
Activists Chrisley Carpio, third-left, with Laura Rodriguez, fourth-left, Lauren Pineiro, fifth-left, and their attorney Michelle Lambo, right, speaks, during a press conference outside the George E. Edgecomb Courthouse on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in Tampa. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

Student voices: Five University of South Florida students arrested in March while protesting for student rights on campus are speaking across the nation about Florida’s aggressive transformation of higher education.

Mental health services: St. Petersburg College has launched a new applied mental health certificate program to help law enforcement officers cope with stress on the job, WUSF reports.

New College: Some top state university officials criticized an analysis of New College’s business plan conducted by two unnamed University of Florida professors, News Service of Florida reports.

Testing: Experts say the Classic Learning Test that Florida recently approved for use has no evidence to show its value as a high-stakes admission test, the Washington Post reports.

Tuition: A new report placed three Florida universities among the four “most affordable” in the nation, the USA Today Florida Network reports.

Don’t miss a story. Here’s a link to yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go ... Sea shanty, anyone? If you like the band, the closest they’ll be is Charlotte, NC, on Dec. 1.

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