Charter schools now top choice: Charter schools are now the most popular school of choice for Florida parents, according to the Florida Department of Education. About 47 percent of Florida preK-12 students, or 1.6 million, attended a choice school during the 2017-2018 school year. Charter schools claimed 292,001 of those, compared to 262,633 who use open enrollment, 226,122 in choice and magnet programs at district schools and 225,033 paying to attend private schools. redefinED.
Lawmakers’ priorities: Two prominent members of legislative education committees echo Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call this week for cutting down the number of students on waiting lists for tax credit and Gardiner scholarships. Senate Education Committee Chair Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, says wait lists must be eliminated, and House Education chair Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, says the House is working on a education savings account plan that could immediately help students whose applications are on hold. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer both programs. redefinED.
Graduation paths: Florida’s high schools are graduating more seniors than ever, but some legislators want to find even more alternative paths to a diploma. “It’s still a big goal of mine,” says state Rep. Ralph Massullo, R-Lecanto, the chair of the House PreK-12 Innovation committee. Several bills have already been filed. One would allow students to graduate even if they can’t pass the required tests as long as they meet other criteria. Another would focus on subject mastery in middle and high schools as ways to assign grades and credits, and another would require all high schools to have advisers to counsel students with a grade point average under 2.0 about alternative graduation pathways and technical training. Gradebook.
Teaching religion: A bill is introduced into the Legislature that would require all high schools to offer students an “objective study of religion.” State Rep. Kim Daniels, D-Jacksonville, who filed the bill, said examples are courses on the Hebrew Scriptures and Old Testament, the New Testament or a combination of all three. Florida Politics. Daniels also said Wednesday she is willing to agree that she broke state law by filing false financial disclosures if the Florida Commission on Ethics turns the case over to House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, to decide if further action is necessary. Florida Times-Union.
Hurricane Michael: Hurricane Michael blasted ashore near Mexico Beach on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, making it the strongest hurricane to hit the United States in nearly 50 years and the most powerful to hit the Panhandle since records have been kept. Schools in 21 Florida counties are closed again today while officials assess the damage, and five of those districts will be closed again Friday. Associated Press. News Service of Florida. GateHouse Media. Panama City News Herald. Pensacola News Journal. Northwest Florida Daily News. Citrus County Chronicle. Florida Department of Education. Tallahassee Democrat. Miami Herald. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. WJCT. The Sarasota County School District cancels a digital town hall meeting because of the hurricane. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Hair policies protested: The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is asking the Florida Department of Education to review what it calls “racist” hair policies at private schools that receive money from state scholarship programs. Several students have been banned from schools recently for wearing dreadlocks, braids and other traditionally African-American hairstyles. “The forms of racial discrimination most commonly seen in education have evolved. It is now rare to find a policy that explicitly excludes potential students based on skin color,” says the letter. “However, subtle rules and restrictions based on racial stereotypes and proxies have the same force and effect.” Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer four state scholarship programs. Huffington Post.