The majority of U.S. public school students live in poverty, as measured by students receiving free and reduced-price lunches, according to new data. Florida’s rate is 59 percent, which is among the highest in the nation.
At first, the kids in the auditorium at Richmond Heights Middle School weren’t sure they’d hear a voice above the ear-burning static.
Dade Radio Club of Miami president Miguel Garate kept signaling the space station.
“NA1SS, NA1SS, this is Richmond Heights. Over,” Garate said repeatedly, trying to hail the space station.
They had just minutes before astronaut Samantha Cristoferretti would be out of range.
A voice cut through the white noise.
“This is November Alpha One, I-S-S. I read you three by five,” Cristoferretti said.
Gov. Rick Scott wants to include $100 million in the state budget for charter school construction. He made the announcement Thursday at a Miami charter school founded by rapper Pitbull.
State senators have sent more questions to Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, the Times/Herald capital bureau reports, including asking for specific answers on how much state testing costs and how long it will take. They also want her to clear up whether and how students can “opt out” of state tests.
No Child Left Behind needs an update. Born in 2002, the law expired in 2007 and has sat as Republicans and Democrats struggled to find agreement.
But Republicans now in control of both Congressional chambers seem ready to take on the task — and likely reduce federal education requirements on states.
The biggest question is whether the new law will require annual testing of students. NCLB requires states to annually test third grade through eighth grade students in reading and math. The law also requires math and reading testing at least once in high school and three science exams before graduating high school.
Florida was testing students annually before NCLB and using those results to grade public school and district performance.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says lawmakers should maintain annual testing requirements as they rewrite the federal No Child Left Behind law. Parents, students and teachers have a right to know whether students are making progress each year, he told the New York Times.
When lawmakers return to Tallahassee in March for the annual legislative session, they have a lot of questions they need to answer about public school testing.
Senators laid out their concerns about the state testing system last week at a series of meetings.
They don’t know how many tests the state requires, or how long it takes to complete those exams.
They don’t know how much the state and school districts spend on testing.
And they’re not convinced they can depend on all the results of those exams.
Sen. David Simmons – and his colleagues — wants to change that.
“We’ve got the chance here this spring to do a re-write of this so that we can, in fact, assure that we’re not over-testing our children,” Simmons said.
The leaders of two of the nation’s largest community colleges say they support President Barack Obama’s proposal to give students two years of college for free.
In a written statement, Broward College president J. David Armstrong says the proposal could mean more training for teachers, nurses, paramedics, firefighters and police. That’s good for the economy, he says.
The proposal “provides unprecedented access and opportunity for all to attend the first two years of college and earn a certificate or associate’s degree since it directly addresses economic barriers for those seeking the American Dream,” Armstrong says.
Miami Dade College already offers full scholarships to many students.
President Eduardo Padron says community colleges support the idea because the cost of college often prevents students from finishing their studies.
President Barack Obama is proposing that all students could attend two-year community colleges for free. Supporters say its a leading way to make college more affordable, while critics say the plan would likely shift college aid from low-income students to middle class students.
Beginning teachers would earn at least a $50,000 salary – starting next school year – under a bill filed this week in Tallahassee.
Sen. Darren Soto (D-Orlando) filed the bill, SB 280, which cites a need for the state to attract and retain teachers. It seeks to increase their pay without affecting other personnel and programs.
Lawmakers would have to put enough money into education to guarantee the minimum starting salary for teachers and to ensure that districts have enough money to maintain other services. The base salary would be adjusted each year for inflation.
The bill doesn’t explain how lawmakers should come up with the money to boost all of those salaries. It makes no mention of teacher evaluations – which impact salaries. It also doesn’t say whether experienced teachers would get a pay increase since beginners would be bumped up considerably.
While the starting pay varies among districts, the state Department of Education says the average salary among all Florida teachers for the 2013-2014 school year was $47,780.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average salary for all Florida workers is just over $41,000.