Carvalho staying: Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho accepted an offer to be New York City’s chancellor of schools on Thursday. Then, after meeting with the school board and hearing from students and members of the community who pleaded with him to stay, Carvalho changed his mind. “I just don’t know how to break a promise to a child, how to break a promise to a community,” Carvalho said in explaining his decision. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had already announced the appointment, said his first response was just “profound surprise.” His press secretary, Eric Phillips, tweeted: “He was a Yes for a week+, until he was a No 15 minutes ago. Bullet dodged. Who would ever hire this guy again? Who would ever vote for him?” Miami Herald. Politico Florida. New York Times. Associated Press. According to a timeline of events, Carvalho appeared to mislead people in both Miami and New York City. Politico Florida. Chalkbeat.
Armed teachers: Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor warns legislators that their proposed school marshal program would turn black students into nothing more than “target practice” for “trigger happy teachers.” Leon School Superintendent Rocky Hanna called Proctor’s rhetoric an embarrassment to the community. Later on Thursday, Proctor was joined by the Legislature’s 28-member black caucus, which said arming teachers would only expose African-American students to more gun-related danger. “This is a recipe for disaster,” says Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens. Tallahassee Democrat. Miami Herald. Tallahassee Democrat. Gov. Rick Scott opposes arming teachers, but he and the family of one of the victims urge the Legislature not to let differences bog down the effort to act. Miami Herald. Politico Florida. GateHouse. News Service of Florida. The National Association for School Resource Officers does not support arming teachers. But if it happens, the organization is offering tips on what to do and not do. Gradebook. School board chairpersons around Florida get an email blast from the Pinellas County School Board, asking them to join Pinellas in supporting a ban on assault weapons. Gradebook. The Brevard County teachers union and most teachers in Lee County come out against the proposal to arm select school employees. Florida Today. Fort Myers News-Press. The subject of arming teachers draws strong comments at a community meeting in Martin County. TCPalm.
Schools of Hope: The Senate-House conference committee negotiating the final form of the education bill agree to spend $140 million to continue the Schools of Hope program. The program offers money for extra services at struggling public schools, and for recruiting highly regarded charter companies to open schools in areas with persistently low-performing schools. redefinED. The Senate and House are close to an agreement on funding for higher education, but are still trying to reconcile how to pay for mental health services, more armed school resource officers and teacher supply grants for K-12 schools. Politico Florida.
Selling the bill: House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, posts a cartoon on YouTube to explain and defend the education bill that was passed last week. Corcoran calls it “#toontruth for anyone who likes the truth in animated video format.” Orlando Sentinel. How the education bills passed in Tallahassee on recess, testing and charter schools could affect St. Johns County schools. St. Augustine Record. Teacher bonuses would be smaller and many more teachers would earn them under the new education bill. Bridge to Tomorrow. The school choice movement is breaking into two camps: one that wants to use choice to improve public schools, and one that wants greatly expand choice by using tax money. Associated Press.
Title I, Medicaid concerns: The Legislature’s decision to distribute federal Title I funding directly to schools and spread it to more schools could have devastating long-term effects on poor students, say district officials. Districts will be forced to cut special programs for low-income students, including after-school and summer school, or shift money from other programs to make up the difference. “A number of our community members and parents are aware of the services we provide in our 63 Title I schools,” said Felita Grant, Title I director for Pinellas County schools. “It would be a shock to them, if this bill goes through, the number of services we would have to cut back on.” Tampa Bay Times. School districts around the country say proposed cuts in the Medicaid program will have a significant impact in schools. Associated Press.
Teachers honored: Diego Fuentes, who teaches music to students with severe disabilities at the Hillcrest School in Ocala, is chosen as one of five finalists for the Department of Education’s 2018 Florida teacher of the year award. Fuentes was awarded $5,000. The winner will be announced July 13. Ocala Star Banner. Palm Beach County’s teacher of the year and school-related employee of the year are surprised with free, two-year leases of BMWs. Palm Beach Post.
Teaching incentives: Experienced teachers are being offered up to $70,000 in incentive pay over three years to work at struggling Carver Middle School in Orlando. More than 100 teachers have already applied, school officials say. Those hired will get an extra $20,000 for the 2017-2018 school year, and $25,000 in each of the next two years. Carver has received two Fs and a D in school grades in the past three years, and nearly 80 percent of its students failed their Florida Standards Assessment exams. Orlando Sentinel.
Recess in schools: The Florida Senate unanimously approves a bill that would require 20 minutes of daily recess for the state’s nearly 1.3 million elementary school students. But the bill is at odds with the one moving through the House now, which would eliminate the daily mandate, allow schools to blend time in physical education classes with recess time, and not require any recess for fourth- and fifth-graders. Senate bill sponsor Anitere Flores, R-Miami, says she hopes the House gets the message that senators “feel strongly that if we’re going to have recess, it should be actual recess.” Miami Herald. Sunshine State News. Politico Florida.
Charter funding challenge: The Florida Association of Independent Public Schools files an administrative challenge to the state’s new rules for charter school capital funding. The rule denies any construction and maintenance money to charter schools that receive an F grade from the state, or consecutive D grades. There are no such restrictions on traditional schools, and the association argues that all public schools should be treated the same. Gradebook.
Charter changes: Three Duval County middle schools could become charter schools in the next school year if the Legislature approves a bill that allows such transitions for traditional schools that get D or F grades for three years in a row. Ribault Middle School, Matthew Gilbert Middle and Northwestern Middle could all change hands, says school board chairwoman Paula Wright. “We still have time to pull together as a community so we make certain they understand that this is not what we want,” Wright said. Florida Times-Union.
School bus bill: The Senate Criminal Justice Committee approves a bill that would stiffen penalties for drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses and kill or injure someone. They would be required to pay bigger fines, lose their licenses for a year and perform community service in a trauma center or hospital. News Service of Florida.
Superintendent elections: Rocky Hanna soundly defeats incumbent Leon County School Superintendent Jackie Pons. Tallahassee Democrat. WFSU. Addison Davis is elected superintendent in Clay County. Florida Times-Union. Putnam County voters choose Rick Surrency as superintendent. Florida Times-Union. Kathy Burns is elected superintendent of Nassau County. Florida Times-Union. Malcolm Thomas wins a third term as Escambia County superintendent. Pensacola News Journal. Russell Hughes is elected superintendent for Walton County schools. Northwest Florida Daily News. Bill Husfelt is re-elected superintendent in Bay County. Panama City News Herald.
School board elections: School board results from around the state. Pinellas. Hillsborough. Hillsborough. Hernando. Miami-Dade. Orange. Lake. Lake. Palm Beach. Duval. Brevard. Lee. Polk. Polk. Indian River. Martin. Manatee. Manatee. Manatee. Flagler. Citrus.
Retention rules: The Florida School Boards Association is lobbying legislators to clarify the law regarding the retention of third-graders. The group wants clearly defined promotion alternatives for students that consider both testing and achievement, an end to the reliance of a single testing result to determine retention, and local control over promotion decisions. Gradebook.
New superintendent: Tim Forson is picked by the school board to be the new superintendent of the St. Johns County School District. Forson, who retired last spring as deputy superintendent of operations after 36 years in the district, was the unanimous choice over Vickie Cartwright, who is the senior executive director for exceptional student education for the Orange County School District. Forson takes over Jan. 4 for the retiring Joe Joyner. St. Augustine Record. Florida Times-Union.
Middle school suicide: For the first time, suicide is claiming more U.S. middle school student lives than car crashes, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2014, 425 students between the ages of 10 and 14 killed themselves. The rate doubled in the years between 2007 and 2014. WUSF.
Dropout prevention: Intensive tracking of student progress is fueling a rapid rise in the graduation rate at Homestead Senior High School. In the 2010-2011 school year, 54.2 percent of seniors graduated. In 2014-2015 the rate was up to 68.4 percent, and school officials think they’ll hit 72 percent this year. Frequent use of data is helping to identify students in trouble, and prompts the dropout prevention team into quick intervention. Miami Herald.
Dress code: A 16-year-old Ridgewood High School student who has had cancer twice was told last week that the cancer survivor t-shirt he wore to school violates the dress code. The code forbids wearing a shirt with a logo that takes up more than a quarter of the design. Tim Powers says he’s disturbed the school wouldn’t let his son Tyler wear the shirt. Daily Mail.
Bathroom rights: A lawsuit challenging the Duval County School District’s policy allowing students to use the bathroom aligned with their gender identity has been dismissed. A lawyer for the challengers says the suit may be refiled, pending the results of other similar cases. Florida Times-Union.
Cutting costs: About 225 Hillsborough County support teachers and perhaps administrators are being assigned to classrooms as part of the district’s cost-cutting plan. General fund reserves have dropped by more than $200 million since 2011. Tampa Bay Times.