Safety in schools: Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis’ public safety advisory team backs the conclusions of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission report, wants law enforcement to have more authority in schools and suggests stiff penalties for schools that miss deadlines or ignore state rules on security. “We need to be unleashed into the schools,” says Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, and “show consequences to the kids so that when they grow up and turn 18, we aren’t actually creating a pipeline to the prison system.” Politico Florida. Florida Politics. The state safety commission report is in and recommendations for improving security for schools have been made. How does the Broward County School District stack up on meeting those recommendations? Sun Sentinel. Orlando area school districts will make changes based on the panel’s report. WKMG. Another Broward deputy is suspended for his actions during the school shooting. Sun Sentinel. Miami Herald.
Corcoran and accountability: In 2012, then-State Rep. Richard Corcoran supported a plan to require standardized testing for students at private schools that accept tax credit scholarships. Now that he’s education commissioner, though, he’s not commenting on that possibility. Gradebook.
Schools of excellence: Eighty-eight more Florida schools may be added to the 630 already designated as “school of excellence” by the state Board of Education at its meeting Thursday. Those schools earn the label by being in the 80th percentile or higher in points for Florida’s school grading system, then maintain it by getting an A or B grade the next year. Designated schools’ principals are permitted greater autonomy, and the schools are exempt from daily minimum reading requirements and may calculate class size as a school average, among other benefits. Gradebook.
District’s toll violations: The Broward County School District has been billed almost $10,000 for 34 toll violations by school buses on the Florida Turnpike dating back to 2009. If the violations had been paid on time, the bill would have been less than $50. A school spokeswoman says at least some of the violations are in error, and it’s asking for clarification from SunPass. “I’m at a loss for words,” says school board member Robin Bartleman. “That is unbelievable that this slipped through the cracks.” Sun-Sentinel.
Education and politics: Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis unveils his education goals for the state that include more school choice, more support for career and technical training, incentives for teacher retention, an increase in the cap for tax credit scholarships, an end to Common Core, an emphasis on civics education and a requirement that 80 percent of education funding go into the classroom. Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum touts his plan to raise corporate income taxes to increase education spending by $1 billion, including starting salaries of $50,000 for teachers and $100 million for construction, and vows to end “the voucherizing of the education system.” News Service of Florida. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. Florida Politics. GateHouse. Florida Phoenix. Education Week. Associated Press. WFSU. Tallahassee Democrat. Politico Florida. WUSF.
Achievement gap: The Pinellas County School District improves in five of six categories in its plan to close the achievement gap between black and white students by 2027, according to a report from the minority achievement office. Still, no progress was made between the groups in state English and math exams results, with the gap steady at 33 percent. “It’s good; it’s not great,” minority achievement officer Lewis Brinson tells the school board. “But good is acceptable and encouraging that we will become great … if we continue to keep the focus.” Gradebook. Alachua County School Board members approve an equity plan to close the achievement gap between white and black students, over the objections of some community members who say it needs more accountability and inclusion. The plan has been developed over the past year by Valerie Freeman, director of equity for the school system, who says commitment to the plan is necessary even as changes can be made later. Gainesville Sun.