Putting Education Reform To The Test

Tasnim Shamma

WLRN-Miami Herald News Kroc Fellow (2012)

I'm a Kroc fellow (August 2011-2012) reporting, writing, editing, blogging and producing for NPR in Washington, D.C. I spent February to May 2012 in Miami, Florida at WLRN for a member station rotation as part of my fellowship at The Miami Herald newsroom. I graduated from Princeton's Class of 2011, where I was executive editor for multimedia for The Daily Princetonian. I previously interned at The Star Tribune, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek and The Star-Ledger.

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College Students Begin Three-Day March From Daytona To Sanford

Courtesy of Vanessa Baden

Editor’s note: This post was written by WLRN reporter Tasnim Shamma.

Over 40 college students from around the state gathered near the Bethune-Cookman University campus in Daytona Beach Friday afternoon. They’re walking 41 miles to Sanford to call for justice for Trayvon Martin. The march is meant to mimic the historic 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

The campaign began at Daisy Stocking Park and will conclude on April 9 at Sanford City Hall. During the march, students will be stopping every two hours and receiving training. Continue Reading

School In Haiti Named After Sixth Grader In South Florida

Benjamin Rusnak/Food For The Poor Staff

Rachel Wheeler, 12, of Lighthouse Point, has raised funds for 27 homes and a 10-classroom school in Leogane, Haiti. Here Rachel gets to know one of the kindergarteners over a meal during the inauguration of the new school. The community's old school was destroyed in the January 2010 earthquake.

Editor’s note: This post was written by WLRN reporter Tasnim Shamma.

In her third visit to Haiti within a year, 12-year-old Rachel Wheeler from Broward County visited Rachel’s School to cut the ribbon on a¬†school she helped build.

The previous elementary school,¬†Ecole Reap de Morel,¬†in the coastal village of Kay Piti in Leogane, Haiti,¬†was damaged in the country’s¬†January 12, 2010 earthquake. It was held up by metal and wood with bed sheets to¬†separate¬†classrooms. Today, the school is made of concrete blocks and a zinc roof. It has ten classrooms that can hold up to 350 students.

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Pension Case Moves Directly To Florida Supreme Court


Teachers have been taking a 3 percent cut to their paychecks since July 2011.

Editor’s note: This post was written by WLRN reporter Tasnim Shamma.

The Florida Supreme Court accepted a public pension case last week that challenges a law passed in July that requires public employees to contribute 3 percent of their paychecks toward their retirement.

The Florida Education Association says this is unconstitutional and has been fighting this law since last year.

Since 1974, the state’s retirement system has been¬†noncontributory,¬†so employees were never expected to pay into the system. Though it seems logical for teachers to pitch in to pay for their own retirement,¬†Mark Pudlow, a spokesman for the FEA,¬†says you need to look at the whole picture.¬† Continue Reading

Mock Evictions Draw Criticism at Florida Atlantic University

Courtesy of Christine Capozziello / University Press

Gabi Alecksinko, a senior Intercultural Communications major at FAU, posted an eviction notice on a student's door at the Indian River Tower dormitory of the Boca Raton campus last Friday.

Editor’s note: This post was written by WLRN reporter Tasnim Shamma; see response from FAU below.

About 200 students at three residential dormitories of the Boca Raton campus of Florida Atlantic University returned home last Friday to find mock eviction notices posted on their doors.

The notice said they had three days to collect their belongings or be arrested.

The group, Students for Justice in Palestine, was trying to bring attention to home demolitions in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Florida Christian College Sues Over Private College Grant Program

Florida Christian College

Florida Christian College has sued over access to a state grant program for private colleges.

Editor’s note: This post was written by WLRN reporter Tasnim Shamma.

Earlier this month, Florida Christian College in Kissimmee filed a lawsuit against the state for not being allowed to enroll in the Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG) program because of a disagreement with the Florida Department of Education about whether the college has a “secular purpose.”

About half of the 380 undergraduate students at the college are Florida residents who could be eligible for the $2,000 annual grants at private colleges.

Officials at the college assert that it does teach secular subjects. So even if it offers a “biblically based education”, it does prepare students for secular jobs. The federal Constitution allows government benefit programs to include religious organizations as long as the overall purpose of the program is secular.

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Why South Florida Schools Are Joining An Anti-Bullying Program


Editors note: This post was written by WLRN reporter Tasnim Shamma.

As a new documentary about bullying hits theaters in New York and Los Angeles today, a growing number of South Florida schools are taking on the issue of students abusing and picking on their classmates.

More than 40 Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County have signed up for an anti-discrimination program called “No Place for Hate.”About 35 pre-K schools have joined the program in Palm Beach County.

And Pasadena Lakes Elementary School in Broward County just joined a growing list of South Florida schools certified as “No Place for Hate” Wednesday.

Lily Medina, the¬†Education Project Director with the Florida¬†Anti-Defamation League, says that the outreach has been focused on South Florida based on where they were able to receive grants. But the ADL’s “No Place For Hate” program hopes to expand to North Florida and Central Florida soon.

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