Education goals: The head of the Senate’s K-12 appropriations subcommittee wants to raise teacher pay by changing the state’s teacher bonus plan, cut standardized testing and keep offering longer school days to the state’s lowest-performing schools. State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, outlined his 2017 legislative session goals during the subcommittee’s first meeting. Politico Florida. News Service of Florida. WOFL.
Budget problems: Voters just approved a sales tax increase that will provide the Palm Beach County School District $1.4 billion over the next 10 years. But school officials say it isn’t enough to offset cuts in funding from the state, and they expect to have to cut budgets for at least the next three years. Sun-Sentinel.
Pot dispensaries: Florida legislators should protect children by adopting laws that ban medical marijuana dispensaries within 2,500 feet of schools, forbid any products that look like candy, and ban the products on school property without supervision, members of the Miami-Dade County School Board say. Miami Herald.
Superintendent favorite: Diane Kornegay emerges as the consensus favorite to become the next Lake County school superintendent. Kornegay, who is deputy superintendent at the Clay County School District, is the only one of the six finalists who will be interviewed further Monday and Tuesday. If she’s hired by the school board, Kornegay will succeed the retiring Susan Moxley. Orlando Sentinel. Daily Commercial.
Daily recess: Elementary school students in the Orange County School District will be given 20 minutes of recess daily. The school board approved the measure, although it also allows teachers some discretion in how recess is scheduled. Orlando Sentinel.
Early education: Most of Florida’s children eligible for the Head Start program aren’t enrolled because there isn’t enough money to add classrooms, according to a study by the National Institute for Early Education Research. Fixing the problem would cost about $20 billion a year. Orlando Sentinel. Washington Post. The 74.
District rankings: The St. Johns County School District is named tops in the state in an annual survey by Niche.com. The Seminole County School District is second, Okaloosa third, Sarasota fourth and Brevard fifth. Ratings are based on data from the U.S. Department of Education, including test scores, college readiness, graduation rates, SAT/ACT scores and teacher quality. WPLG.
Failing schools: New Miami-Dade County School Board member Steve Gallon is proposing the district focus on improving schools that have received grades of D or F from the state. Florida Bulldog.
SpringBoard survives: The Hillsborough County School District will keep using English and math textbooks from SpringBoard. Teachers and students have complained about effectiveness of the materials, which the district buys from the College Board. Replacing the textbooks would have cost almost $12 million, a price the financially strapped district was unwilling to incur. Tampa Bay Times.
STEM. Students in Orlando’s Pine Hills neighborhood experiment with growing bioluminescent mushrooms. Orlando Sentinel. These 20 public elementary schools excel in science instruction for disadvantaged students. Bridge to Tomorrow. Students at a Lakeland Christian school learn about robotics during a summer workshop. Lakeland Ledger.
Private schools. A Bradenton Montessori school plans to expand into a new location. Bradenton Herald.
Charter schools. Palm Beach’s new superintendent plans a forum for charter school parents. Sun-Sentinel.
Digital learning. Florida schools seem likely to to receive state digital classrooms funding despite uncertainty caused by a line-item veto. Tampa Bay Times. A parent writes an open letter to Palm Beach’s superintendent on digital learning. Context Florida.
International Baccalaureate. A St. Petersburg student gets rare perfect scores on her college-credit exams. Tampa Bay Times.
Testing. The Florida Senate approves a testing and accountability overhaul. Associated Press. News Service of Florida. Scripps/Tribune. The state of the state’s testing regime draws some choice words from lawmakers. Miami Herald. The testing bill would also allow districts to move up school start dates. Orlando Sentinel.
Charter schools. A provision aimed at luring out-of-state operators is stripped from Senate charters and choice legislation. Miami Herald. Hillsborough holds an orientation for charter school operators. Gradebook. A district probe of an Escambia charter school is more complex than mere grade tampering. Pensacola News-Journal.
Uniforms. Do they help student outcomes? PoltiFact.
Early learning. Duval’s Head Start program makes improvements. Florida Times-Union.
Teacher pay. A new Polk teacher contract awaits ratification. Lakeland Ledger.
Security. North Florida school administrators oppose arming school employees. Panama City News Herald.
Charter schools. The charter schools in Pinellas expect to add 1,400 students this fall, for a total of nearly 6,500. Gradebook. A new charter school in Naples is offering a summer camp to boost literacy skills for ELL students entering kindergarten. Fort Myers News Press. The struggling Tiger Academy charter school in Jacksonville shows big improvement in its third grade FCAT results. Florida Times Union.
Private schools. Q&A with the new head of Tampa’s Carrollwood Day School. Tampa Tribune.
Teacher transfers. Alexander Russo takes a look at a recent study examining involuntary transfers in Miami-Dade.
School spending. Pasco anticipates $1 billion in capital expenses through 2025 and $711 million from all funding sources. Gradebook. Pasco considers shifting some school start times to save money on bus routes. Tampa Bay Times.
Superintendents. The Tampa Bay Times profiles new Hernando Superintendent Lori Romano.
Porn. Pasco deputies arrest a 15-year-old high school student for possession of child pornography after school officials find a photo on her iPhone of two teens having sex. Tampa Tribune, Tampa Bay Times.
Head Start. The feds uphold the suspension of the Jacksonville Urban League as a program provider, citing health and safety issues. Florida Times Union.
I am more politically incorrect than your average guy, so when I heard President Obama call for universal pre-K for 4-year olds in the State of the Union, I cringed. With all the raucous enthusiasm ringing around this issue since the speech, adapting Warren Buffet’s investment approach to public policy might be wise: when everyone is bold, it’s time to be cautious.
In 2006, when I was with California Parents for Educational Choice, we were part of a coalition of organizations that defeated Rob Reiner’s ballot initiative to bring universal pre-K to the state. It was introduced to widespread public approval, but by Election Day garnered only 39 percent of the vote. The electorate came to understand three major elements they did not like:
* Expanding pre-K to everyone, including middle class and upper income families, is hugely expensive and precious little, if any evidence, supports much educational value added for the middle class and wealthy.
* The initiative vastly expanded the existing public school monopoly, which hardly has a resounding record of educational success, especially with poor and minority students. It also mandated collective bargaining, swelling the ranks and economic power of the California Teachers Association, an organization that systematically stands in the way of innovation and reform.
* The academic outcomes were questionable. A Reason Foundation analysis found from 1965 to 2005, 4-year old participation in preschool programs had grown nationwide from 16 percent to 66 percent, but we had virtually no evidence of increased student learning on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) by fourth grade. Oklahoma, with a universal program since 1998, finished dead last on the 2005 NAEP, actually losing four points.
But that was close to seven years ago and admittedly, I haven’t followed the pre-K issue regularly. So I spent the last few days reviewing some studies and data. The key word in the Obama proposal is quality.
We likely can justify a highly targeted effort on kids in failed families or families that simply have no resources – financial, social, emotional, or cultural – to allow their children to mature and develop normally. But when Obama declares, “We know this works,” he overstates and simplifies our experience.
I’m here tonight as a parent with two young children who attend a wonderful public school. No one has more at stake in this election than our kids, and that is why we need to re-elect President Obama!
Our president knows education is about jobs. It’s about giving every child a shot at a secure middle-class life. Right now, we’re in a race for jobs and industries of the future. If countries like China out-educate us today, they’ll out-compete us tomorrow. The president believes that education begins at home with parents who take responsibility. But he also believes that teachers matter. In his first two years in office, he helped save the jobs of 400,000 educators.
And President Obama didn’t just invest resources; he demanded reform. And 46 states responded by raising education standards. The president also believes teachers must be respected and paid like the professionals they are. No teacher should have to teach to the test. Great teachers should be recognized and rewarded.
And President Obama also knows that higher education is an economic necessity. He fought to keep student loan interest rates from going up. He fought for Pell grants. He took the big banks out of the federal student loan program and passed billions of dollars in savings on to young people. This year alone, he helped nearly 10 million students afford college.
The president knows that the path to the middle class goes right through America’s classrooms. That was his path. That’s America’s path. However, his opponent believes differently.
Under the Romney-Ryan budget, education would be cut by as much as 20 percent. Think about what that would mean: 200,000 fewer children in Head Start, fewer teachers in the classroom, fewer resources for poor kids and students with disabilities, fewer after school programs. Ten million students could see their Pell grants reduced, putting higher education further out of reach. And these cuts wouldn’t create jobs or pay down the deficit. They would go toward a huge new tax cut for those at the very top.
In order to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires, Governor Romney will cut education for our children. That’s the difference in this election. They see education as an expense. President Obama’s sees it as an investment. That’s the choice in this election. And that’s why our president needs four more years!