Israel’s school security: Florida lawmakers get a close-up look at security at Israeli schools during their trip with Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Cabinet on a trade mission. By law, every Israeli school must have a 6-foot high fence and a single point of entry at a secured gate, except for emergency exits. Lawmakers were also briefed on the way Israeli schools handle emergency drills, communications, discipline and students with mental health issues. “There’s a lot we can take back,” said State Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, who represents the district that includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Capitol News Service. Florida Politics. Florida Society of News Editors. WFOR.
Education spending: Florida ranks 45th in Pre-K through 12th grade education spending by states and the District of Columbia, according to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The state spent $9,075 per student in the 2017 fiscal year, more than $3,000 below the U.S. average of $12,201. Only Arizona, Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Utah spent less per student. Patch. U.S. Census Bureau.
Student newspaper honored: Eight members of the Eagle Eye, the student newspaper at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, are honored by the Pulitzer Prize Board for memorializing the 17 people killed in the 2018 shootings at the school and covering the ensuing student activism. “These budding journalists remind us of the media’s unwavering commitment to bearing witness even in the most wrenching of circumstances in service to a nation whose very existence depends on a free and dedicated press,” said Pulitzer Prize administrator Dana Canedy. Sun Sentinel.
Early education cuts: Palm Beach, Broward, Duval and Sarasota counties are among the counties that will receive less money from the state for early education this year. Meanwhile, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties will receive $7 million more. The Legislature set aside $676 million in School Readiness funds to pay for child-care for low-income families, but how the money is distributed seems to be a mystery. “No one seems to really know” how the money is allocated, Cynthia Sucher, the former spokesperson for the Office of Early Learning spokeswoman, said in 2017. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Lawsuit over voucher? The Florida Education Association is considering joining other advocacy groups to file a lawsuit against the latest scholarship program approved by the state. The Family Empowerment Scholarship will use public funds to send students to private schools. “It’s a plainly unconstitutional program,” said Alex Luchenitser, associate legal director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “Public funds should not fund anyone’s religion.” Voucher supporters think the new program can survive a lawsuit. “I’m comfortable if we have to litigate this,” said Ari Bargil, an attorney with the Institute for Justice. “All this program does is recognize parents’ fundamental right to select the best for of education for their own children.” Orlando Sentinel.
Turnaround school: The Alachua County School Board is hiring the University of Florida’s Lastinger Center for Learning to help the struggling Terwilliger Elementary School raise its grade from the state. Terwilliger has received three straight D grades from the state, and will fall under the state’s turnaround program if it doesn’t get a C or higher this year. The Lastinger Center will step in to help Terwilliger for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years regardless of the grade the school receives. Gainesville Sun.
Documentary on teachers: Teachers from Florida schools will be the focus of a six-part documentary series by Daytona State College professor Eric Breitenbach. Ordinary Heroes, which will air this fall, follows teachers at Turie T. Small Elementary in Daytona Beach, an exceptional student education classroom at Flagler Palm Coast High and Daytona State College’s cosmetology program. Breitenbach says he chose Turie’s Nicole Hayes, Flagler Palm Coast’s Luann Reel and DSC’s Kathy Miltenberger because he wanted people to appreciate what public schools do. Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Giving back: Beth Lucas, the Bay County School District paraprofessional who was named the state’s school-related employee of the year last week, donates $500 of her winnings to the district’s clothing drive and $500 to Merritt Brown Middle School, which is still trying to recover from damage done by Hurricane Michael. “I don’t do this for awards. I do this because of our autism babies and I do it for the school,” she said. “The school has my heart.” Panama City News Herald.
More on reading results: Reports from more Florida school districts on the results of the 3rd-grade scores on the Florida Standards Assessments reading test. Statewide, 58 percent of 3rd-graders scored at a Level 3 or higher, which is considered at or above grade level and 1 percentage point higher than in 2018, but 20 percent score at Level 1 and face retention. Scores were below the state averages in Duval County, but up in Flagler. Florida Times-Union. Daytona Beach News-Journal.
District ordered to pay: An appeals court rules that the Lee County School Board and its insurer are responsible for paying the medical costs for two school bus passengers who were injured when the bus was hit by a car in 2014. The driver’s insurance company paid $10,000 to each of the passengers’ medical care but sought reimbursement from the district and its insurer, citing the state’s personal-injury protection law. News Service of Florida.
Opinions on schools: Bullying and related acts are on the rise in Polk County, so the school district is on the right track by confronting mental health issues with its new threat management team. Lakeland Ledger. Florida is investing in students and teachers, and empowering school districts to provide a quality education. State Sen. Gayle Harrell, TCPalm. Florida Republicans have shown they are intent on privatizing public education. The data show that the effect is also to resegregate schools and open up gaps in achievement on racial, ethnic and economic lines. State Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, Miami Herald. Educational progress has been made in some parts of the new South, largely because of K-12 reform-minded governors, but a new wave is needed to provide globally competitive education. Matthew Ladner, redefinED. The College Board’s well-intentioned effort to consider adversity when scoring the SAT exam falls short of its goal by substituting one potentially unfair standard with another. Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune.
Student enrichment: Connor Cane, a 15-year-old student at Florida Atlantic University High School, is one of 47 U.S. students chosen to participate in the two-week United Space School in Houston. Sun Sentinel.