A state senator has asked his local school board to stop — as much as possible — teaching Florida’s new Common Core-based standards. Though Sen. Alan Hays said he wasn’t asking the district to break the law, state law requires students in every grade meet the new standards.
The legal and public relations battle over Florida’s private school scholarship programs continues, with the statewide teacher’s union revising its lawsuit and a school choice group producing a new television ad supporting the programs.
Wednesday, the Florida Education Association amended its complaint challenging a new school choice law. The new complaint adds South Florida parents after a judge ruled the parties named in the previously filed suit lacked standing to challenge the law.
The new plaintiffs are Miami-Dade and Lee County parents and attorneys argue their kids’ education suffers because the tax credit scholarship program diverts money to private schools instead of public schools.
“With the result that the Miami-Dade County Public Schools lost approximately $75 million in funding, which was redirected from the public fisc to private schools,” the complaint says.
The suit challenges a bill approved this year which creates a new voucher program for students with disabilities. But the bill also expands the state’s existing private school scholarship program funded with state tax credits for businesses that donate to the scholarship fund.
The candidates running for three South Dade state House seats — Republican, Democrat, independent — all agree that Florida students and schools spend too much time testing.
Candidates running for the Florida House of Representatives in the 112th, 114th and 115th districts gathered for an education forum Tuesday night at Palmetto Middle School.
“The biggest problem that the assessment process has right now,” said Rep. Erik Fresen, a Republican who represents the 114th district and is chairman of the House Education Appropriations subcommittee, “we have a completely twisted form of actually executing the assessments. Assessments end up drowning the school.”
His challengers, Democrat Daisy Baez and independent Ross Hancock both agreed: There’s too much testing and teachers must adjust their plans and lessons to prepare students for those exams.
In the 115th district, Republican incumbent Mike Bileca and Democratic opponent Kris Decossard agreed. So did Democratic Rep. Jose Javier Rodriquez, who represents the 112th district. His opponent did not participate.
Tuesday’s forum was the latest sign that the political tide has turned against the testing requirements of Florida education policy and local school school districts.
A 10th grader born in Haiti struggles to read in his class at Godby High School in Tallahassee. The student is more comfortable with Haitian Creole than English. Teacher Althea Valle has students of various nationalities trying to master the language.
“It’s a challenge,” Valle says. “There’s a lot of gesturing, and you know sometimes I feel like I’m onstage and sometimes I have to be onstage to make myself understood.”
Valle is the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) coordinator for Leon County schools. Her developmental language class is offered as an elective for students who want the extra help, like Anas Al-Humiari from Yemen. His native language is Arabic, and he’s been studying English for 5 years.
“First of all, the words are the main things that get me down and the time, me trying to understand the sentence and what is the article or text actually means,” Al-Humiari says, trying to find the right words.
Five Florida schools are in the nation’s top 50 on a new ranking that measures how well graduates climb the economic ladder.
Florida A&M University is ranked number three and Florida International University is ranked seventh on the Social Mobility Index created by CollegeNET, a higher education technology firm, and Payscale, which tracks worker pay.
The rankings factor tuition, percentage of low income students, graduation rates, recent graduate earnings and school endowment. The rankings reward schools with low tuition or a high percentage of low-income students, in particular.
Florida State University ranked 29th, University of Florida 40th and the University of South Florida 48th.
Overall, the state of Florida ranked number four in the nation.
By comparison, Princeton ranked 360th, Harvard 438th and Yale 440th.
Hillsborough Community College students who were paid cash bonuses were more likely to complete remedial math courses and meet with math tutors, according to a new study from social science research firm MDRC.
The study looked at students in Hillsborough Community College’s Mathematics Access Performance Scholarship program, which pays students $600 per semester for three semesters, if they met goals. Those goals include visiting HCC’s Math Labs tutoring center at least five times and earning a ‘C’ grade or better on a college level math course or intermediate Algebra.
Gov. Rick Scott’s claim that 3,000 teachers lost their jobs while Charlie Crist was governor is “mostly false,” according to PolitiFact Florida. Scott repeated the claim at last night’s debate at Broward College, the second of three debates between the two candidates.
The leaders of two large, national school groups say they want to change the amount of testing in schools. The Council of Great City Schools and the Council of Chief State School Officers want to eliminate tests which aren’t essential — many of them local — and make sure it’s clear why the tests are given and how the results are used. But the groups say they are committed to annual testing.
Last week StateImpact Florida told you how a middle school in Miami has added speech and debate courses this year to improve reading, writing and speaking.
The school’s principal, Bridget McKinney majored in debate and thought the requirements for Florida’s new Common Core-based standards sounded a lot like her college classes. She needed a writing teacher for new speech and debate courses she wanted to create.
But like many Florida schools, Allapattah Middle has plenty of expectations but a limited budget.
She couldn’t hire a new teacher. It wasn’t in the budget. So she turned to what seems like an unusual place — physical education teacher Veldreana Oliver, who has been with the school for 28 years.
“Let’s go! Dale!” Oliver hollers at students looping around Allapattah’s campus. “Dale! Dale! Dale!”
She’s getting her students ready for a timed one-mile run.
But now she’s also getting them ready for the state’s new, annual exam.
Volusia and Flagler County schools report fewer students are buying lunch at school because of new federal healthy food rules. The rules require students to take fruits and vegetables if they are buying lunch — and much of that ends up in the garbage.