Archive | Achievement Gap

Florida schools roundup: H.B. 7069, district tapping reserves and more

H.B. 7069: The controversial K-12 education bill H.B. 7069 has been sent to Gov. Rick Scott for consideration. He must make a decision on the bill by June 27, though there are reports that he intends to sign the bill Thursday in Orlando. The bill creates a fund to recruit high-performing charter schools into areas with persistently struggling schools, requires 20 minutes of recess a day for traditional public elementary school students and sets aside more than $200 million to provide bonuses for teachers and principals, among other things. Orlando SentinelGradebook. Gov. Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, were in Miami to make the first of five stops in a “victory tour” of Florida to celebrate the budget agreement. Miami Herald. Tampa Bay Times. Sun Sentinel. Sunshine State News. Hundreds of teachers protest the education bill at Gov. Scott’s rally in Jacksonville Beach. Florida Times-Union. WJCT. WJXT. Supporters and opponents of the education bill continue to pepper Gov. Scott with emails and calls. News Service of FloridaWKMG. WBBH. Florida Politics.

District finances: The Duval County School Board tentatively agrees to tap the district’s reserves to help make up the difference between the money it expected from the state and what it actually will get. The district was expecting an extra $16 million after the budget deal in the special session. But the state told the district that about half of that needs to be set aside for mandates and charter schools. Florida Times-Union. Polk County school officials say the district will struggle to maintain reserves and give raises to teachers and staff under the level of funding the state has approved for education. The district expects to receive $6,983 per student from the state, which is $110 less than it received 10 years ago. Lakeland Ledger. The Manatee County School Board asks its attorney to write a resolution for a special election in March to raise property taxes for schools by 1 mill. The increase would raise about $30 million a year for the district. Bradenton Herald. The Cape Coral Charter School Governing Board tentatively approves a budget for its four schools that gives employees a 2 percent raise but cuts the number of teachers and administrators by 14. Lehigh Acres Citizen.

Audit raps district: The Broward County School District greatly overpaid asphalt contractors for athletic tracks and playgrounds and didn’t get required permits, according to an internal audit. Forty-seven times between 2010 and 2017, the district paid $150 to $300 an hour for workers. In 2016, auditors say, the Palm Beach County School had similar work done and paid $15 to $45 an hour. The Broward district has a history of financial mismanagement in its facilities department, and is about to begin infrastructure updates covered by an $800 million bond approved by voters in 2014. Sun Sentinel. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: H.B. 7069, S.B. 374, charter networks study and more

H.B. 7069: Sources say Gov. Rick Scott will sign the education bill, H.B. 7069, into law Thursday in Orlando, according to the website Florida Politics. The most controversial section of the bill creates a fund to recruit high-performing charter schools into areas with persistently struggling schools. The bill also requires 20 minutes of recess a day for traditional public elementary school students, includes more than $200 million to provide bonuses for teachers and principals, kills the end-of-course Algebra 2 exam and pushes Florida Standards Assessments testing to the end of the school year. Florida Politics. Gov. Scott is also still considering whether to sign S.B. 374, the higher education bill that includes an expansion of the Bright Futures scholarship program. Tallahassee Democrat.

Charter networks: High-profile charter schools companies are improving student achievement, according to a study by charter school researchers at Stanford University. The study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes also suggests larger charter networks outperform standalone charters, nonprofit charters generally do better than for-profits, and virtual charter school students struggle to keep up. redefinED.

District finances: Volusia County school officials say they’ll collect an extra $4.6 million from the state because of the legislative special session deal on per-pupil spending. The school board meets today to discuss how to close the rest of the projected budget shortfall. Daytona Beach News-Journal. St. Johns County school officials say the extra money from the Legislature is barely enough to keep up with inflation, and doesn’t do enough to support enrollment growth. St. Augustine Record. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: Education spending deal, H.B. 7069 and more

Special session: A last-minute deal was struck on increasing per-pupil K-12 spending and providing more money for economic development and tourism, and the Legislature adjourned as scheduled Friday after a three-day special session. Per-pupil spending will go up about $100. Gov. Rick Scott says he’s still deciding whether to sign two other education measures: H.B. 7069, a bill that broadens school choice and funding for charter schools, and a higher education bill that would expand Bright Futures scholarships. Tampa Bay Times and Miami HeraldNews Service of Florida. Associated PressSun Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. Naples Daily News. Tallahassee Democrat. WFSUPolitico Florida. When the Legislature couldn’t agree on key legislation, Gov. Scott swooped in to take advantage. Mary Ellen Klas, Miami Herald. Was the education budget agreement a hollow victory? Many education advocates say the increased spending still isn’t enough. Miami Herald.

Bills signed: Gov. Scott signs 16 bills into law, including one that strengthens the right to religious expression for students and staff in K-12 schools. Miami Herald. Gradebook.

Testing results: Here are more reports on the results of Florida Standards Assessments testing from districts around the state. Miami HeraldNorthwest Florida Daily News. TCPalm. Space Coast Daily. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Bridge to Tomorrow. Sarasota school officials are encouraged by improvements made by students in testing, and hope they’re enough to maintain the A grade the district has received every year since grades were first given in 2004. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: Special session, testing, prayer case and more

Special session: A proposal to change the way K-12 schools are funded fails in the Senate, and the chamber appears to be closer to agreeing to the House’s spending plan for K-12 education. But the special session could collapse over a dispute about spending for higher education. Speaker Richard Corcoran says the House will not join the Senate in overriding Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of about $75 million in projects for colleges and universities, as Senate President Joe Negron has demanded. His escalating feud with Negron over education priorities and the agreement Scott and Corcoran reached last week is threatening to sink the special session. Today is the final scheduled day. Miami Herald and Tampa Bay TimesPolitico FloridaMiami Herald. News Service of Florida. Palm Beach PostFlorida Politics. Gradebook. redefinED. Sunshine State NewsPolitico Florida.

State testing results: Florida sophomores post a 62 percent pass rate on the Florida Standards Assessments algebra 1 exam, up 7 percentage points over last year’s performance, say Florida Department of Education officials. There was no change in the 50 percent pass rate on the language arts exams. Orlando Sentinel. Tampa Bay Times. Florida Department of Education. WJXTHere are reports on testing results, and potential effects of those results, from districts and schools around the state. Sun Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. Florida Times-UnionGradebook. GradebookBradenton Herald. Fort Myers News-Press. Gainesville SunOcala Star Banner. Florida Today. Lakeland Ledger. TCPalm. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Flagler Live. Panama City News Herald. WFLAOnly 11 percent of Florida’s high school seniors who had to retake the algebra 1 end-of-course test passed it, according to the Florida Department of Education. GradebookPolitico Florida.

Prayer court decision: A federal judge rules against a Tampa Christian school that claimed its free speech rights were violated when the Florida High School Athletic Association did not allow it to broadcast a prayer before a football game. The FHSAA denied Cambridge Christian School’s request to use a stadium loudspeaker for a prayer before a state championship football game in 2015, saying allowing it would have implied an endorsement of the message. The federal judge’s decision concluding the school had no right to broadcast the prayer concurred with the recommendation from a magistrate judge in February. News Service of Florida. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: Budget deal, special session, vetoes and more

Budget deal, special session: Gov. Rick Scott and leaders of the Senate and House reach an agreement on the state budget, and legislators will return to Tallahassee Wednesday through Friday for a special session to vote on the deal. The agreement will boost spending on public education by about $200 million and put $165 million into the economic development agencies Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. Both were goals of Scott’s. In return, Scott will sign an education bill that sets aside more money for the charter school industry, which was a priority for House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, and more money for higher education, which was a priority for Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart. Miami Herald and Tampa Bay TimesredefinED. Sunshine State News. Tallahassee Democrat. Orlando Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. One of the 33 bills signed by Gov. Scott approves payments to two former Palm Beach County students injured at school activities. Palm Beach Post.

Reactions to deal: Advocates of public schools say the budget agreement is half good. They like the additional money for education, but remain opposed to the funding gains for charter schools. Miami HeraldGradebook. School officials and the state’s largest teachers union, the Florida Education Association, say the agreement still doesn’t provide enough money for education. Miami HeraldFlorida Politics. Florida’s Democratic lawmakers condemn Scott’s agreement with the legislative leaders, calling it “backroom politics at its worst.” Florida Politics. Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times. St. Johns County school officials worry that state financial support for charter schools means less money for their traditional public schools. The county has no charter schools. St. Augustine Record. Seven struggling schools in Indian River and St. Lucie counties could be competing with charter schools for students under to so-called “schools of hope” provision in the education bill. The bill offers charter companies incentives to move into areas with persistently low-performing schools. TCPalm.

Budget vetoes: Gov. Scott vetoes more than $400 million in programs from the state budget. Among them: $11.4 billion as the state’s portion for the public-school financing program, which is known as the Florida education finance program; $14 million for a school uniform program; $500,000 for the Florida Orchestra to work with schools and community orchestras; and $100,000 for a statewide study about the cost-of-living disparities in Florida school districts. Miami Herald. Tampa Bay TimesNews Service of Florida. Gradebook.

Boost in black teachers: The Pinellas County School District sets a goal of 18 percent black teachers and administrators within 10 years. The number is now 11 percent, and district officials hope to boost it by a percentage point every year. Superintendent Mike Grego said principals “want people in front of students who are in the same diversity of their student population.” Tampa Bay Times. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: Education bill, concern for future of schools and more

Education bill: The Senate is reportedly planning to deliver the education bill to Gov. Rick Scott today. If it does, Scott will have 15 days to decide if he wants to veto the whole thing, parts of it or none of it. Tampa Bay Times. Parents rally for the bill at the offices of the Miami-Dade County School Board. Miami Herald. Hillsborough school officials are campaigning against the education bill on the grounds that it takes too much from traditional public schools to give to charter schools. But they also acknowledge the need for charter schools to help deal with growth. Nine percent of the county’s students now attend charters. Tampa Bay Times.

Rocky schools future: Many school officials believe the President Trump and Florida Legislature education budget proposals signal hard times ahead for traditional public schools. The acceleration of school choice and government support for charter schools is shifting dollars away, and most officials believe further erosion of financial support for traditional public schools is inevitable. Broward school officials say they will lose $83 million for capital spending if the state education budget passes, and Palm Beach officials estimate they’ll take a $230 million hit over 10 years. “In a year when the state is not in economic crisis, we should not be in this economic crisis,” Pasco County superintendent Kurt Browning told his school board. Sun Sentinel. Tampa Bay Times.

Personalized learning: Increasingly, personalized learning is being seen as a way to get better educational outcomes. The concept, which revolves around children learning at their own pace, is getting attention now because it’s one of the few educational concepts that draws broad support from all wings in the education reform community. redefinED.

School bus safety: A school district inspector general’s investigation of Palm Beach County school buses reveals that district workers unplugged child-safety alarms on 31 buses but claimed they were working. The child alerts are in place to make sure no child is forgotten aboard the bus. The investigation also found that many buses have expired certifications and have cameras that do not work. The district says corrective measures are being taken. Palm Beach PostWPEC. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: School sales tax holiday, education bill and more

Sales tax holiday: Gov. Rick Scott approves a three-day sales tax holiday for back-to-school shoppers. It’s Aug. 4-6, and gives shoppers a tax break on clothes, school supplies, computers and computer accessories. Scott also approves a three-day sales tax holiday to buy hurricane supplies. In signing the bill, Scott again criticizes the Legislature’s budget and education bills, but gave no indication of whether he would veto either. Palm Beach PostGradebook. News Service of Florida.

Education bill: Parents of Gardiner scholarship students are lobbying Gov. Scott to sign the education bill, which would greatly expand the program that benefits children with special needs. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the Gardiner scholarships redefinED.

Interim’s goals: Patricia Willis, the interim superintendent for the Duval County School District, says she will focus on improving third-grade reading and graduation rates. Willis, a former deputy superintendent for the district, will run the system until the school board finds a permanent replacement for Nikolai Vitti, who left last week to lead the Detroit school system. Florida Times-Union.

Reading test results: School districts in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties all show gains in the Florida Standards Assessments reading test for third-graders. Fort Myers News-Press. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: Pre-K report, resegregation, private schools and more

Pre-K access, funding: Florida ranks second in the nation in providing access to pre-kindergarten programs, but just 40th in per-student funding, according to a report from the National Institute for Early Education Research. Florida enrolled about 76 percent of all eligible 4-year-olds, trailing only the District of Columbia, but its per-student funding amount of $2,353 is less than half the national average. Florida also meets just three of the 10 quality measures, the report concludes. Gradebook.

School resegregation: A study by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA contends that the proliferation of school choice programs is contributing to the resegregation of public schools in Florida and the rest of the South. The report says 34.6 percent of Florida’s black students and 32.1 percent of Hispanic students attended schools with 90 percent or more minorities in 2014, when the overall student population was 22.3 percent black and 30.9 percent Hispanic. Florida has one of the highest charter school expansion rates, according to the report. Gradebook.

Private school changes: Historically, private schools were often places where white students went to get away from public schools. Increasingly, that is changing, with many private schools now filled with low-income or disabled students who use scholarships from the state to attend. “The historically unfavored are now being favored, are now being accepted,” says Vernard Grant, director of the ACE Student Success Center with the Association of Christian Schools International. redefinED.

Education bill feedback: A slight majority of Floridians is now urging Gov. Rick Scott to sign the education bill. A week ago, about 75 percent of those who had contacted the governor wanted him to veto H.B. 7069. The change of sentiment is widely thought to be attributed to organized campaigns by school choice advocates. Miami Herald. Continue Reading →