State ranks 4th in K-12 achievement, all schools reopened, student hero and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

K-12 achievement: For the second consecutive year, Florida is ranked fourth among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in K-12 achievement, according to the annual “Quality Counts” report from Education Week. The state was given a grade of C-plus; the national average is C-minus. States were rated on 18 measures of achievement related to reading and math performance, graduation rates and Advanced Placement exams results. When combined with earlier reports on chance for success and school finance, Florida was ranked 26th by Education Week with a grade of C. Education Week.

All schools reopened: The last nine Florida school districts closed because of the threat from Hurricane Dorian have reopened. Florida Department of Education. Florida Times-Union. WJCT. WJXT. Florida Today. Space Coast Daily. WPEC. A Marion County school serving as a hurricane shelter for residents with special needs doesn’t have a generator and still doesn’t have a finalized emergency plan. School board members say they will work with emergency officials to fix the issues. Ocala Star-Banner. Eleven Duval County schools that acted as shelters got a quick cleaning to be readied for students to return today. Florida Times-Union. More than 300 Volusia County School District employees at 14 schools took on jobs at hurricane shelters. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Student saves teacher: A 6-year-old Polk County kindergarten student is being hailed as a hero who saved the life of his teacher recently at Frostproof Elementary School. Substitute Joyce Darr, 67, was knocked unconscious when she fell and hit her head in the classroom. Student Max Aguilar reacted quickly, running to another classroom to get help. Darr suffered a cracked skull and a brain bleed and was airlifted to a hospital, where she spent 12 days on life support before recovering. “It’s a miracle, and if it wasn’t for Max she’d be dead, no doubt about it,” said Darr’s son Derek, who rewarded Max with a pair of Jordan sneakers. WTVT. WFLA. Lakeland Ledger.

Sales tax issues: Clay County School Board members approve a resolution to put a half-cent increase in the sales tax on the November 2020 ballot. That request now goes to the county commission for its approval to be placed before voters in the general election. WJXT. A Santa Rosa County citizens group is opposing a drive to increase the sales tax by a half-cent for new roads and infrastructure to accommodate population growth. The group, called Santa Rosa County Voters Against Overcrowded Roads and Schools, wants the county commission to levy an impact fee on new development, which the school district had lobbied for but didn’t get. The vote is Oct. 8. Northwest Florida Daily News.

School board changes: The Jacksonville City Council Rules Committee considers today whether to oppose a legislative bill that would allow the city’s mayor to appoint the seven members of the Duval County School Board. The bill was proposed by State Rep. Jason Fischer, R-Jacksonville, a former member of the school board. The committee’s recommendation will go to the full council Tuesday. Florida Politics.

Sex education courses: For the first time in 15 years, the Pasco County School District is updating its sex education curriculum. For younger students, 4th- and 5th-graders, emphasis will be given to healthy relationships and respect as well as understanding the body and puberty. Students in 7th and 8th grades will learn about sexually transmitted diseases, gender identity, the proper use of birth control and recognizing signs of sexual abuse. A recent survey of about 1,500 teens found that nearly 25 percent of them are “currently sexually active.” Gradebook.

Education podcast: The Jefferson County School District is the only one in the state run by a charter school company. WLRN reporter Jessica Bakeman, who spent three years following the transition, talks about how it happened and the potential implications for other school districts. Gradebook.

Personnel moves: Thomas Kalament, an assistant principal at Central High School in Hernando County, is named the principal at Pine Grove Elementary School. He replaces Nancy Johnson, who is retiring at the end of this month. Gradebook.

Bus driver arrested: An Okaloosa County school bus driver has been arrested and charged with cruelty toward a child. Deputies say Evelyn Fields, 56, yelled at a student in a wheelchair and began “forcefully shaking the child’s arms, and then poking the child in the side of the head.” The child, who is nonverbal, has a condition that makes his bones weak and easily broken. Northwest Florida Daily News. WEAR.

School threat: The mother of a Fort Lauderdale student is arrested and accused of threatening to blow up the school. Police say Nancy Marie Kramer, 51, made two threatening calls last week to St. Thomas Aquinas High School. WLPG. WFOR. WSVN. Miami Herald.

Students arrested: Two 14-year-old Polk County students are arrested after they and two other students were treated at a hospital for taking the drug ecstasy at George Jenkins High School in Lakeland. Orlando Sentinel. Four Hernando County students were arrested at Hernando High School on Thursday after reports of a gun being sold at the school. A weapon was recovered off-campus. Tampa Bay Times. WFTS. Gainesville police say two students who didn’t want to go to school threatened a mass shooting at Westwood Middle School on Wednesday. The boys, 15 and 11, were arrested on charges of making written threats to kill or injure. WOFL. Gainesville Sun. Charges are pending against a Hernando County student who had a bad reaction to taking THC oil, then allegedly took a swing at the Weeki Wachee High School teacher and grabbed a coach by the throat. WTSP.

Fire in classroom: A fire in an unoccupied life skills classroom at Riverdale High School in Fort Myers prompts an evacuation. No one was injured, and school resumed. Fire officials are investigating the cause. Fort Myers News-Press.

Opinions on schools: The fight over control of the Lincoln Memorial Academy charter school should focus on the children affected, not the adults involved. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Words matter, and the spate of violence at schools has left authorities little choice but consider a zero-tolerance policy. Parents can make a difference before cops come calling, however, with a little diligence and loving intrusiveness in the home. Lakeland Ledger. Sure, many of us with children in Marion County schools were inconvenienced by this disruption to our regular schedule. But Hurricane Dorian’s enigmatic travel forced officials to err on the side of caution. Ocala Star-Banner. Should parents who home-school their children support school vouchers? Patrick R. Gibbons, redefinED.

Student enrichment: Five Miami-Dade high school students win awards for their design of a future car, and another for her fashion accessories designs. Miami Herald.

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