Jeffrey S. Solochek - Education Reporter

Education Reporter

I've been an education reporter for more than 25 years, in Illinois, Texas and Florida. Why stick with it? Because I see education as key to our community, whether it's about children learning, teachers and staff working, or residents seeking the best for their tax dollars. Our school systems are critical to our society, and I strive to tell you what's going on there. I've worked at the Tampa Bay Times since 2000, covering statewide education issues as well as the districts in Hernando, Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Think I've missed something? Send your ideas my way. I read all my emails.

  1. Dr. Joseph Ladapo, left, was named Tuesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis as Florida's next surgeon general. He issued a new emergency rule on school COVID-19 protocols a day after his appointment.
  2. Yesterday• The Buzz on Florida Politics
    St. Petersburg High students Sydney Conroy, right, and Toby Lam wear a masks as they arrive on Aug. 11, 2021, the first day of school in Pinellas County.
  3. Yesterday• The Education Gradebook
    Food and Nutrition workers at Fivay HIgh handed out pre-packaged meals for students who could come to the school to pick them up during the height of the pandemic. The state has applied for more federal aid to continue distributing free food when schools are closed.
  4. A face mask rests atop some school work, Monday morning September 13, 2021 as Volusia County School starts mandatory masks for students.
  5. Crowds like this one at a recent Pinellas School Board meeting have been larger and often more animated as boards have taken on issues including school masks, race relations and transgender rights. At this meeting on Aug. 24, one defiant speaker was removed from the chamber by security and another called the school district a "criminal enterprise."
  6. Students arrive at Skycrest Elementary School during first day of school on Wednesday, Aug, 11, 2021, in Clearwater.
  7. Students in the Gulf High class of 2023 show their school spirit in a float they created for the annual homecoming parade in 2019. They haven't had many similar activities since then, but got permission for dances and pep rallies this week.
  8. Scott Rivkees talks to the media during a news conference at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on May 6, 2020.
  9. A boy's restroom at Zephyrhills High School was damaged as part of a student trend of stealing or vandalizing school property and putting a video of the 'devious lick' on TikTok.
  10. A boys' restroom at Zephyrhills High was damaged as part of a student trend of stealing or vandalizing school property and putting a video of the 'devious lick' on TikTok.
  11. Sep. 15• The Education Gradebook
    Governor Ron DeSantis listens as Education Commissioner, Richard Corcoran answers a reporter’s questions in regards to the phasing out of the FSA to pivot to progress monitoring and how that will work to rate schools in the future, at High Point Elementary School, Tuesday, September 14, 2021 in Clearwater.
  12. Gov. Ron DeSantis makes remarks accompanied by teachers, parents and education officials, during a news conference Tuesday to announce a major reduction in spring testing in Florida schools. He appeared High Point Elementary School in Clearwater.
  13. The University of Florida cracked the top five in a new ranking of national public universities for 2022.
  14. Boca Ciega High School senior Matthew McCrary, 17, works on algebra homework for his liberal arts math class while his cat, KiKi, explores the dining room table on Monday. McCrary is concerned that his lesson plans have been interrupted because so many teachers are being quarantined.
  15. Florida's battle over school mask mandates remains its most high profile debate over methods to stop the spread of COVID-19, which has seen quarantine numbers far exceed those of a year ago.
  16. Pinellas County School Board member Caprice Edmond called on her colleagues to hold a special session to discuss mask mandates during their Aug. 24 meeting. On Friday, she announced on Facebook her plan to revive the discussion when the board meets Tuesday.
  17. The First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee could decide as early as today whether the DeSantis administration may enforce a ban on strict school mask mandates while appealing a ruling that found the effort unlawful. [Times file photo]
  18. President Joe Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, shown during a July briefing in Miami, have taken opposing stances on school mask mandates.
  19. St Petersburg High School students, Sydney Conroy, 17, left and Toby Lam, 17 both wear a masks as they walk to the school for the first day of classes in August. A circuit court judge has allowed school districts' mask rules to remain in place during appeals in a legal battle over the issue.
  20. Opponents, left, and supporters of a mask mandate, right, square off outside the Pinellas County school district headquarters before the school board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Largo. The debate over school masks is being played out in courtrooms across Florida.
  21. Pasco County parent Kimberly Cox was among several parents who urged the School Board on Tuesday to implement a mask mandate. The board took no action on the topic.
  22. The fight over whether Florida schools should require masks for students and staff shows no sign of abating, as legal maneuvers continue on both sides of the debate.
  23. Leon County Judge John Cooper issued his ruling in Florida's highly watched school mask mandate lawsuit. The state immediately appealed his verdict. [Florida Channel/Photo from video]