Charter students’ performance: Florida charter school students are outperforming their traditional public school peers in nearly every category of achievement, according to a report issued by the Florida Department of Education. Students in charter schools had a higher level of achievement on statewide assessment test in 63 of 77 comparisons, had higher learning gains in 88 of 96 comparisons, and had lower achievement gaps between white and minority students. The results show that “there is simply no denying that choice works, particularly for minority and low-income students,” says Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. redefinED. Gradebook. Florida Politics. Florida Daily. Florida Department of Education. Traditional public schools have higher percentages of students in poverty, so is the analysis fair? Florida Phoenix.
Book-banning bill tempered: The House PreK-12 Quality committee has watered down the language in a bill introduced to remove books with “pornography” from public schools. H.B. 855 had drawn opposition from school leaders and science advocates who called it censorship and an infringement of the rights of local school officials to decide on what materials they could use. The streamlined version removes provisions criminalizing the purchase of materials that are found to be “unacceptable,” language that separates literature from pornography, and changes the textbook challenge process to keep the decision in the hands of the local school boards. Gradebook.
Bullying scholarship verification: The Florida Department of Education is advising school districts not to verify students’ bullying claims before deciding whether to award them Hope Scholarships to attend different public schools or private schools. Doing so would violate state law, the DOE told superintendents in a memo that also warned that “any district that is adding this requirement is in violation of statute and administrative rule and will be dealt with according to law.” The Pasco County School District, which had announced it was considering verifying incidents before offering the scholarship, has abandoned that idea. Gradebook.
Teachers protest: Teachers around the state rallied Monday for more financial support for schools from the Legislature. The “fund our future” events were organized by the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union. The union wants a boost in per-student spending of $743, or about 10 percent, to better fund schools and would allow higher pay to combat the shortage of teachers statewide. The 60-day legislative session begins today, and Gov. Ron DeSantis will deliver his State of the State message at 11 a.m. Orlando Sentinel. Keynoter. Florida Phoenix. Florida Politics. WKMG. WINK. Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Bright Futures boost: The Florida Legislature’s Joint Legislative Budget Commission will consider adding $25.3 million into the Bright Futures scholarship program when it meets next week. The Legislature allocated $520 million in the budget for the program, but the latest projections show an increase in the number of students qualifying, boosting the cost to $545 million. The scholarships provide full tuition and fees for students who qualify as Academic Scholars in Florida high schools and colleges, and 75 percent for Medallion scholars. News Service of Florida.
Hope Scholarships: When the Legislature launched a state scholarship for students who were bullied in public schools, it expected as many as 7,300 students to apply for money that would allow them to attend private schools or use for transportation to another public school. But only 60 Hope Scholarships have been awarded in three months, even though $4 million was raised in the first month from car-buyers who chose to direct $105 from state taxes into the scholarship fund. Some are blaming the “laborious application process.” Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, administers the scholarships. Orlando Sentinel.
Hope Scholarships: The first two-dozen Hope Scholarships for Florida students who have been bullied or physically abused are being awarded this week. Those public school students may use the scholarships, which range from $6,519 for K-5 students to $7,111 for high school students, to attend a private school or arrange transportation to a different public school. People who purchase or register vehicles can designate $105 of the tax for the scholarship fund, and about $3 million has been raised since Oct. 1. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the scholarship. Politico Florida.
Change in justices: Florida Supreme Court Justice Ricky Polston recently recused himself from the lawsuit that alleges the state has not fulfilled a 1998 constitutional amendment requiring it to provide a “high quality” system of public schools. No reason was given for the recusal. Chief Justice Charles Canady has temporarily assigned Edward LaRose, chief judge of the 2nd District Court of Appeal, to the case, Citizens for Strong Schools v. Florida State Board of Education. The court heard oral arguments Nov. 8. Two courts have already ruled in favor of the state. News Service of Florida.
Hope Scholarship delays: While the new state scholarship for bullied students technically begins when school resumes in August, funds for the Hope Scholarships won’t be available until after Oct. 1 and possibly not until later in November. The scholarships will be funded through voluntary donations of the $105 from the sales tax that drivers pay for vehicle transactions. The collections do not begin until Oct. 1 and car dealers have 20 days to report their previous month’s tax collections, which could delay the money being available until Nov. 20 or later. The scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and state analysts project a demand of about $27 million in the first year. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, will help administer the program. News Service of Florida.
Kavanaugh and education: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has defended then-Gov. Jeb Bush’s Florida school vouchers program against a constitutional challenge in 2000, publicly praised attempts to break down the barriers between religious schools participating in programs financed with public funds, and supported the use of public address systems for student-led prayers at public school events in Texas. The 74. Miami Herald. Politico. Sun-Sentinel. Education Week.