Florida schools roundup: Arming teachers, Gardiner waitlist, standards and more

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Arming teachers: A bill is filed in the Florida Senate that would eliminate a clause in state law prohibiting teachers from being armed in classrooms. Other new provisions include a requirement that county sheriffs establish an armed guardians program if asked to by local school boards, and allowing contract employees to serve as guardians. The first hearing for the bill is Feb. 12. It was submitted by the Senate Education Committee, and follows the recommendation of the chairman of the state commission that investigated the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February. Tampa Bay Times.

Gardiner waitlist: Gov. Ron DeSantis says his budget proposal includes $18.8 million to end the waiting list for students who are trying to get Gardiner scholarships. About 1,800 students are on the list for the program, which provides aid for students with disabilities. About 12,000 students now get the scholarships, and most use them for tuition to private schools. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the program. News Service of FloridaOrlando SentinelFlorida Times-UnionFlorida PhoenixredefinEDWKMGWFTVWPTV. WBBH. Florida Politics. Daytona Beach News-Journal. WFSU.

Common Core impact: With Gov. DeSantis calling for an end to the Common Core standards in Florida schools, districts around the state are uncertain whether to go forward with the purchase of millions of dollars worth of textbooks that align with those standards. TCPalm. Monday, DeSantis reiterated his decision to remove the Common Core standards from schools, saying he doesn’t “want school to be some big standardized testing machine.” Florida Politics.

Private meetings: Broward County school officials, facing a lawsuit challenging their decision to close meetings with parents of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, decide to bar school board members instead of opening the meetings to the public. Only one board member was allowed to attend Monday’s meeting with Superintendent Robert Runcie, other school officials and parents, and that was Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter died in the shootings at the school nearly a year ago. Sun Sentinel.

Teachers honored: Sarah Hall, a kindergarten teacher at Longwood Elementary School, is named the Seminole County School District’s teacher of the year. Orlando Sentinel. Alanna Rohling, a kindergarten teacher at Lincoln Park Elementary School, is named the Escambia County School District’s teacher of the year. Pensacola News Journal. WEAR.

Turnaround schools: A $100,000 donation is providing after-school tutoring and Saturday reviews for students at Champion Elementary School in Daytona Beach. The economically disadvantaged school is trying to boost its D grade from the state. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Superintendent’s appeal: A special master agrees with suspended Okaloosa County Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson that Gov. Ron DeSantis must provide more specific details about why he suspended her. News Service of Florida. Florida Politics.

LGBTQ appreciation: Some members of the community are thanking Pasco County school officials for continuing to support policies protecting the rights of transgender students. The district and school board have been criticized by protesters for those policies. Gradebook.

School board elections: Karen Rose, who narrowly lost a Sarasota County School Board race to Shirley Brown in November, says she will run again in August 2020. This time, she’s filed for the District 2 seat held by Caroline Zucker. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Arrested, but running school: The headmaster of a West Palm Beach private high school is released on bail after his arrest last week on charges of having sexual relations with an underage student, and will continue running the school from home. Randall Konsker, 53, headmaster and owner of the Matlock Academy, is charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious battery and 10 counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. Palm Beach Post.

Disciplined, still teaching: Teachers who have been disciplined for child abuse, drug abuse, having sexual relationships with students and more are still teaching in Florida schools, according to a review of state records. WTSP.

Students arrested: A 16-year-old student at Piper High School in Sunrise is arrested for cutting another student with a pocket knife. Sun Sentinel. Two Lee County students are arrested and accused of making written threats against North Fort Myers High School and Oak Hammock Middle School. Fort Myers News-Press.

Opinions on schools: Our education system should align with the demands of both our state’s traditional economic foundations and the new opportunities emerging almost daily. Nothing less than Florida’s future depends on it. Kent Shoemaker, Florida Today. The schools of Florida should teach, as 19th century poet and social commentator Matthew Arnold put it, “the best that has been thought and said” in our culture — not, as Sen. Dennis Baxley puts it, “different world views.” Donald R. Eastman III, Tampa Bay Times. As an educator who taught college English for 20 years and as a substitute teacher, I have seen the scholarship of students fall dramatically as a result of standardized testing. Sarah McIntosh, Gainesville Sun. The bloat in the well-intended educational standards, which prioritizes reading and math at the expense of subjects like the humanities, arts and sciences, is largely caused by the stakes of standardized testing. Matt Dailey, Tallahassee Democrat.

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