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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. Earlier today• The Education Gradebook
    A view of the University of Florida from the campus entrance at W University Avenue and SW 13th Street in Gainesville.
  2. Parents and children arrive at Egypt Lake Elementary School for the first day of school for Hillsborough County students in August. Parents' role in education means different things to different parents as the debate over their rights continued in Florida.
  3. From left, Michael Wright, Triston Williams and Juan Dacosta are the first University of South Florida students to join the Call Me MISTER program, which aims to bring more Black men into Pinellas County's teaching ranks.
  4. Families who oppose mask mandates gathered outside Pinellas County school district headquarters in Largo before an Aug. 24 School Board meeting. The recent push for parents' rights has expanded beyond masks to include other issues.
  5. "Gender Queer: A Memoir," was written by Maia Kobabe.
  6. Fiona Lashells, 8, speaks during a press conference with Gov. Ron DeSantis beside her before before he signs bills to limit COVID-19 vaccine mandates on private, state government employees and school districts at Brandon Honda in in Brandon on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021. Fiona missed weeks of school in Palm Beach County because of her refusal to follow the district's mask mandate.
  7. People attend a regular meeting of the Pinellas County school board on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. Parent and resident involvement in school board politics has grown over the past year.
  8. Speech-language pathologist Caitlin Al-Mutawa speaks during a Pasco School Board meeting in December 2020. The public can address the School Board during public meetings, but the district curtailed its ability to comment on district social media pages in November amid a rise in negative remarks.
  9. An unidentified student on his first day of class as IDEA opens two state-sanctioned charter schools of hope in Tampa on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021.
  10. Florida's Republican Senate President Wilton Simpson, left, speaks with Democratic colleague Sen. Perry Thurston before the opening of a special legislative session targeting COVID-19 vaccine mandates, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida lawmakers began debating a package of bills to combat coronavirus vaccine mandates, continuing Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' fight against virus rules. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
  11. Some parents in Florida, Texas and other states who say they are concerned about students being indoctrinated about sex and "critical race theory" have successfully petitioned their local school districts to remove certain books from their libraries.
  12. EMT Mia Romero, with USF’s medical response unit, hands paperwork to Marjorie Cidoine, 43, August Anotine, 42, while Mha’siyah Blake, 12, who is waiting to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, waits for his father Tshambe Blake, 44, of Tampa, to fill out paperwork with EMT Victoria Lopez hold at a back to school health clinic at Middleton High School in Tampa on Saturday, July 31, 2021.
  13. Gov. Ron DeSantis greets local officials at Dunedin High School in 2019 to announce his plan to boost starting teacher pay in Florida to $47,500. He has called for more money to continue the effort in 2022.
  14. The Florida State Board of Education adopted new rules relating to services for students with significant cognitive disabilites during a meeting June 10, 2021, in Jacksonville.
  15. Nov. 9• The Education Gradebook
    Pinellas County School Board member Eileen Long takes her seat as the panel's new chairperson Tuesday. She will serve a year in the post.
  16. Florida K-12 Chancellor Jacob Oliva, shown at a 2019 State Board of Education meeting, says the state needs to overcome misconceptions about its recently adopted special education rule.
  17. Mha’siyah Blake, 12, prepares to receive a COVID-19 vaccineat a back to school health clinic in July at Middleton High School. State lawmakers have proposed legislation to prevent schools from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations.
  18. Administrative law judge Brian Newman conducts a second day hearing on six school districts' October 2021 challenge of a Florida Department of Health emergency rule on school mask mandates. Late last week, Newman found in favor of the state.
  19. Representatives from the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association and the school district administration keep their social distance as they negotiate second-semester work conditions last December. The sides resumed bargaining for the current contract over the summer, but have made little progress.
  20. Pepin Academies executive director Jeff Skowronek expresses his concerns regarding a new special education rule to the State Board of Education in June 2021.
  21. Florida's State Board of Education meets on June 10 in Jacksonville, where a rule on assessing students with significant cognitive disabilities received six minutes of attention.
  22. Fifth from the left, Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union and a group including parents of Wilton Manors Elementary School students, stand in support of a recent field trip chaperoned by School Board member Sarah Leonardi to nearby Rosie's Bar & Grill.
  23. Nvidia and UF are partnering to create "higher education's most powerful AI supercomputer." Initiatives like this one are being overshadowed by criticism of the university's repeated bans of faculty members to testify in challenges against state laws.