Florida schools roundup: Marches, meetings, walkouts, a return and more

Students march: Survivors of the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Valentine’s Day lead a march of thousands to the state Capitol, then meet with state lawmakers to call for a ban on assault-style weapons. They say the response from legislators was discouraging, but they vow to continue to fight. Sun-Sentinel. Associated Press. Miami Herald. Palm Beach PostPolitico Florida. Gatehouse Media. Tallahassee Democrat. News Service of Florida. The 74. More than 40 survivors of the Parkland, Columbine and Sandy Hook school shootings and parents plead with President Donald Trump to make students safe during a meeting Wednesday. “How many children have to get shot?” asked Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in Parkland. Trump vowed to bolster background checks and mental health screenings, and supported the idea of allowing teachers and staff to carry guns at schools. Associated Press. New York Times. Education WeekPolitico Florida. Why arming teachers is highly unlikely to happen. Politico Florida. Parkland students have raised $3.5 million to finance a national gun-control movement. Miami Herald. Sun-Sentinel. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is jeered at a town hall meeting held by CNN. Sun-Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. High school students around Florida walk out of classes and take part in marches Wednesday as a show of support for Douglas High students. Sun-SentinelSun-SentinelMiami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. Palm Beach PostGradebook. WFTV. Fort Myers News-Press. WFTX. WESH. Florida Today. TCPalm. Naples Daily News. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Key West Citizen. Associated Press.

Returning to Douglas: Broward County school officials detail the plan to reintroduce students to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Counselors and an added police presence will greet the students when they return Tuesday for a half-day of classes. Sunday, the school will hold a “voluntary campus orientation” with a variety of support services available. Miami Herald.

Other developments: The Broward County School Board meets for the first time since the deadly shooting. “We are stricken with grief that is simply unbearable,” says board member Abby Freedman. Board members praised Superintendent Robert Runcie’s handling of the situation, and the students who have turned into activists. Sun-Sentinel. Broward sheriff’s deputies will begin carrying rifles, including AR-15s, to guard schools. Sun-Sentinel. Lake County School Board member Bill Mathias backed off Facebook comments he made labeling Douglas High School student and activist David Hogg as an “imposter.” Mathias acknowledged he posted before doing enough research. Orlando Sentinel. Eight classrooms at Lake Worth Middle School have doors that can’t be locked from the inside, and they’ve been that way for 18 years. Palm Beach Post. Sun-Sentinel. The Florida Retirement System Pension Plan, which teachers belong to, owns more than 41,000 shares of the company that makes the gun used in last week’s school shootings. Florida Education Association president Joanne McCall is asking the pension fund to sell the shares. Bloomberg. Washington Post. A gun show scheduled next month in Fort Lauderdale is canceled. Sun-Sentinel.

School threats: Florida schools continue to be disrupted by threats. Here are some of them. Miami HeraldOrlando Sentinel. Florida TodayBradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WGCU. Gradebook. Tampa Bay Times. WFLAPensacola News Journal. Florida Today. TCPalm. Naples Daily News. Tallahassee Democrat. Tallahassee Democrat. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Northwest Florida Daily News. Panama City News Herald. WJAX.

Rankings for AP: Florida ranks fourth among U.S. states in the percentage of students who scored 3 or higher on at least one Advanced Placement exam, according to a report by the College Board. The state has put an emphasis on high school students taking AP courses by paying the exam fees, giving teachers bonuses when their students pass the exams, and factoring AP success into school grades. About 100,000 more Florida students took the exams in 2017 than in 2007. Orlando Sentinel. redefinED.

Charter school laws: Florida has the ninth-best state public charter school laws among U.S. states and the District of Columbia, according to the ninth annual rankings by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. The state was rated eighth in 2017. States were rated by 21 criteria, which included growth potential, variety of schools, funding, accountability and authorization. Heartland Institute.

Financial literacy course: The House Education Committee approves a bill that offers Florida high school students a class in financial literacy. The House bill makes the class voluntary, while the Senate version of the bill would make it mandatory in order to graduate. Gradebook.

Home education bill: The House unanimously approves a bill that would scale back the requirements school districts can set on students being home-schooled, and increase their access to dual-enrollment and career education courses. redefinED.

Motto display approved: The Florida House overwhelmingly approves a bill that would require the state motto, “In God We Trust,” to be displayed in a “conspicuous place” in every public school. The Senate has yet to discuss a companion bill. Associated PressGradebook.

Teachers honored: Sarah Ray, who teaches AP human geography and honors economics at Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, is named the Palm Beach County School District’s teacher of the year. Palm Beach Post. Michelle Dinwiddie, a 10th grade English teacher at Lake Gibson High School in Lakeland, is named the Polk County School District’s teacher of the year. Lakeland Ledger.

Superintendent search: A new Palm Beach County school superintendent will be named March 7, members of the school board say. Four finalists are chosen: deputy superintendent David Christiansen, chief operating officer Donald Fennoy, chief academic officer Keith Oswald and regional superintendent Frank Rodriguez. Sun-Sentinel. Palm Beach Post.

Grand jury review ends: A grand jury that was investigating the Okaloosa County School District’s operations has handed its report to the state attorney. The presentment will be sealed for at least 15 days to give any person named in the document a chance to dispute the findings. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Longer school days: The Alachua County School votes to add two minutes of instructional time every day for the 2018-2019 school year, to build up time schools could lose when closed by the weather or other problems. WUFT.

Graduation concerns: High school seniors who are “on the bubble” in fulfilling their requirements for graduation could be hurt by the state’s decision to not allow state testing to begin until May 1, warns Pasco County Superintendent Kurt Browning. Because of the late schedule, test results might not be known before commencement ceremonies. School boards will then have to decide if those students can participate. Gradebook.

Abduction story made up: A 13-year-old girl who says a man tried to abduct her last week while she was walking to Galaxy Middle School in Deltona admits to deputies that she made up the story. She will be charged with filing a false police report. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Opinions on schools: It’s been only a week and a day, but already the student activists who survived the Parkland school massacre are moving mountains, inspiring so many — and a threat that’s rattling many others. Miami Herald. Students are leading a movement and finding their voice. Karl Etters, Tallahassee Democrat. The Legislature must act immediately to close the gaps in current statutes and provide our students and teachers with the protections that they so desperately need. State Sen. Gary Farmer, Sun-Sentinel. Don’t turn our public schools into war zones by allowing weapons on campuses. Karla Hernandez-Matz, Miami Herald. Students are fighting back against violence. Are legislators listening? Tom Hayden, Fort Myers News-Press. Only the lowest of the low would spread lies about Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students being paid to make gun owners look bad. Joe Henderson, Florida Politics. School violence pushes some parents to home-school their children. I still plan to send my son to school, because I think he’s going to get a better education there, and don’t want to keep him from that because of fear. Which doesn’t mean I don’t hold my breath whenever he leaves my presence. Leslie Gray Streeter, Palm Beach Post. More help for struggling Polk County schools is warranted, even if it is from an outside operator. Lakeland Ledger. The education bill is a mix of hot-button issues, warm-button issues and uncontroversial issues. It contains very bad, very good and very technical changes to education statutes served up together in a take-it-or-leave-it fashion.Mark Lane, Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Student enrichment: Covenant Christian School students are working on perfecting a trap to catch the invasive lionfish. Panama City News Herald.

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