Trump threatens aid to schools that don’t reopen, online-only district start, budget issues and more
Homework revisited: A year after Marion County School Superintendent Heidi Maier ended homework for students, the school board will consider a policy that allows elementary school teachers to assign it again. Maier and other administrators conceded last week in a workshop session that some homework is necessary. But they don’t want it to get excessive. “It needs to be meaningful and engaging,” says deputy superintendent Jonathan Grantham, not just busy work. Ocala Star-Banner.
Anti-test movement: The once vibrant movement to slow or eliminate high-stakes standardized testing as a tool for measuring student progress has slowed significantly, according to many in the field. “I think it is much quieter, whether that’s because (Every Student Succeeds Act) plans (are mostly approved) and federal law is not going to be opened up for awhile,” says Patricia Levesque, chief executive officer of Foundation for Excellence in Education, a think tank started by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. But she doesn’t think the debate is dead. “A lot of things are cyclical,” she says. “That’s just the way that policy is.” Many states are still tweaking details. Levesque’s group, for instance, is urging states to push testing to later in the school year. Education Week.
School security: Metal detectors will be used at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School this fall, but the school district will no longer require students to have clear backpacks. Sun-Sentinel. The 20 new armed guardians for the Manatee County School District met Monday for their first day of training. More than 270 people applied for the jobs. The district chose armed guardians over sworn school resource officers because of the costs. “Let’s not rush to judgment right now,” says Pat Bartholomew, the director of safety and security for the district. “We had a very solid vetting process, a selection process, so let the training speak for itself.” Bradenton Herald.
District assessment: The Marion County School District has an extreme disconnect between curriculum and the information given to students on the state tests, according to Jonathan Grantham, deputy superintendent of curriculum. He also says that when the current administration took over in November, the school district was “disorganized and top heavy,” and there are plans to move employees at the district level into jobs that have a direct impact on students. Ocala Star Banner.
Not our party: The Palm Beach County School District is warning parents that a “Back 2 School Party” invitation circulating on social media is not a district-sanctioned event. The sexy invitation includes logos for several county high schools. Palm Beach Post. Sun-Sentinel.
School construction: Pasco County School Superintendent Kurt Browning says if the district is successful in getting the school impact fee for a new home raised to $10,000, a new middle school will be built on the east side of the county within four years. Gradebook.
Pons’ employment: Former Leon County School Superintendent Jackie Pons resigns a job with Florida State University as a business analyst that he started Dec. 12. Pons gave no reason for his resignation from the $50,000-a-year job, but the brief stint allows him to stay in the state’s Deferred Retirement Option Program until the end of February. Tallahassee Democrat.
Trump-related rhetoric: A Wesley Chapel High School teacher is placed on leave after approaching a small group of black students in a hallway, asking them what they were doing and then telling them “Don’t make me call Donald Trump to get you sent back to Africa.” John Sousa, who is also the golf coach, reportedly apologized to one of the students’ parents. Many similar incidents are being reported in schools across the country, according to the website The 74. Tampa Bay Times.
Students protest Trump: About 25 students from Palmetto High School hold a peaceful protest against the election of Donald Trump as president. The chanting and sign-waving occurred during a break between classes. Miami Herald.
Election-related incidents: A student carrying a Donald Trump sign at Bayside High School is attacked and beaten by another student Wednesday. The 17-year-old attacker is arrested and charged with felony battery and more. Florida Today. Racist graffiti invoking the name of President-elect Donald Trump is painted on a bathroom wall at Oviedo High School. Orlando Sentinel. An Arnold High School teacher hangs an American flag upside down after the election, which is typically a signal that someone is in danger or distress. It was righted after a parent complained. Panama City News Herald.
Learning system concerns: Some parents and teachers say a computer learning system now being used in the Palm Beach County School District is adding to testing overload for students. The program, i-Ready, diagnoses students’ problems with math and ready and gives them personalized lessons that help them catch up, but it also includes frequent testing. The program is used in 40 of Florida’s 67 school districts. Sun-Sentinel.