Sammy Mack is the Miami-based education reporter for StateImpact Florida. Sammy previously was a digital editor and health care policy reporter for WLRN - Miami Herald News. She is a St. Petersburg native and a product of Florida public schools. She even took the first FCAT.
Students and civil rights activists are still asking Florida to hold black and Hispanic students to a higher standard.
It’s been a little more than a year since the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County filed a federal civil rights complaint against the state’s race-based academic goals.
There have since been a number of protests by activists who oppose lower expectations for minorities.
But to understand how the race-based goals play out in the classroom, StateImpact Florida sat down with a panel of high school students to talk about the expectations:
Sammy Mack / StateImpact Florida
We spoke with a panel of students about Florida's race-based education goals.
The Florida Department of Education has released practice questions for the new assessments that will replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test next year.
The tests, which are aligned to the new Common Core-based Florida Standards, are available at the Florida Standards Assessments website. Some questions are similar to what students might have seen on the FCAT—asking test-takers to identify main ideas in a text or figure out a percentage in a word problem.
And as promised, there are some new tasks in the design of the test, too. Like a prompt that asks students to drag and drop images as an answer to a question about a reading passage: Continue Reading →
Our partners at WLRN put together a special education hour of the Sunshine Economy this week. The conversation ranged from a talk with Broward County’s superintendent about Common Core to a chat with a group of high school students about diversity in the classroom:
stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net
School's out for summer.
In this edition of The Sunshine Economy:
The school year may be over, but the next chapter in public education begins in less than three months: Common Core State Standards.
However, Florida public school kids won’t follow Common Core, at least not in name. The state has dubbed the standards “Florida Standards.” Still, the principles of Common Core remain: more rigorous education standards to better prepare students for college and careers.
The employment stakes of education are huge. In May, the U.S. job market marked a milestone. The number of jobs created since the recession ended is now equal to the number of jobs lost during the economic collapse. But the recovery is lumpy to say the least. The job gains are concentrated among those with at least some college education. The number of people who have solely a high school diploma or less and a job remains well below what it was before the recession. Continue Reading →
A summer job used to cover more of college than it does now.
A summer job for a college student isn’t what it used to be.
Anya Kamenetz from NPR’s education team explored the economics of rising college costs over the years—and the comparatively creeping change in minimum wage. What she found is that a summer job just doesn’t cover what it used to:
“Let’s look at the numbers for today’s public university student. They’ve all changed in the wrong direction. In 2013-2014, the full cost of attendance for in-state students was $18,391. The maximum Pell Grant didn’t keep pace with that. It’s $5,550. That leaves our hypothetical student on the hook for $12,841.”
Brown v. Board of Education—the Supreme Court decision declaring segregated schools are inherently unequal—turns 60 years old this weekend.
Earlier this week, we brought you memories from students and teachers who were there in the early days of desegregation.
And now, with decades of perspective, here are some of their reflections on the legacy of Brown:
In 1963, Mamie Pinder was a first-time classroom teacher in the previously all-white Allapattah Elementary School. She taught fourth grade. Eventually, Pinder went on to be the first black woman to run for mayor of Miami.
“One day I spent the time asking each of my kids—who were black and white now—‘What color are you? What color are you?’ You get pink, brown, blue. Any color. You don’t get black or white from kids. Continue Reading →
Florida's education goals in math and reading currently vary by race.
Students and civil rights activists have asked Gov. Rick Scott to hold black and Hispanic students to a higher standard. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Dream Defenders were in Tallahassee this week to deliver a petition—with 5,800 signatures—protesting Florida’s race-based academic goals.
By the 2017/18 school year, the Florida Department of Education expects 92 percent of Asian students will pass their math tests at grade level. For Hispanic students, the goal is 80 percent. For black students, it’s 74 percent.
“We’re sending a message that we expect less of certain kids for no reason other than the color of their skin,” said Tania Galloni, the managing attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Florida office. She went to Tallahassee with students and other activists to bring the petition against the unequal standards.
“We know from decades of research that when you lower expectations for a group of people, people internalize that information,” said Galloni.
Mamie Pinder, holds a photograph of herself as a young teaching student. Pinder, a retired Miami-Dade school teacher, began teaching in 1963, the year the school district began merging black and white students bodies and faculty.
This weekend marks the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education—the Supreme Court decision declaring separate schools were inherently unequal.
A recent ProPublica investigation found at least 300 school districts that are still under court-ordered desegregation. Eleven of those districts are in Florida.
Even though Miami-Dade County had those desegregation orders lifted relatively recently in 2001, it was an early state leader in desegregation, putting black and white children and black and white teachers in the same schools.
StateImpact Florida collected memories from some of those students and teachers.
Sir Patrick Stewart is the chancellor of a university.
The actor Sir Patrick Stewart is best known in the United States for his roles on stage and on screen. But you might be surprised to learn that the man who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard is chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, a 20,000-student university in England.
Stewart was in South Florida this past week for Going Global, an international higher education conference sponsored by the British Council.
Unlike university heads in the U.S., British university chancellors hold more of a representative than an administrative position. It’s a role Stewart takes seriously.
“I made a condition at the time that I was not interested in being a celebrity status symbol for the university, I wanted to be as active as possible,” says Stewart.
Stewart himself finished school at 15 years old. When he later started acting, he found himself surrounded by bright, well-educated artists. He did end up attending drama program, but he was self-conscious about his own schooling—which made the Huddersfield opportunity all the more meaningful.
“This invitation was significant to me because I had no higher education whatsoever,” he says.
Stewart sat down with StateImpact Florida to talk about how one teacher influenced an entire career:
And watch him recite a bit of one of his favorite Shakespearean verses, as well as address what line of the Bard’s Florida is most like: Continue Reading →
FCAT was born in 1995 in the humid June of a Tallahassee summer.
The Florida Commission on Education Reform and Accountability under Gov. Lawton Chiles gave birth to the test. It was part of a series of recommendations that were meant to give local districts more control and a better sense of how their schools were doing.
“At some point we may look fondly at the FCAT and wish we had it back,” says Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association — the umbrella organization for Florida’s teachers unions.
Eventually, Ford and the FEA would become outspoken rivals of FCAT, but the relationship didn’t sour immediately.
“It gave me information as a classroom teacher,” recalls Ford. “Unfortunately it was used as a political football to be the decision-maker for every decision that anybody wanted to tie to a test.” Continue Reading →
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