Higher education is poised to be a bigger issue in the 2016 presidential race than K-12. And as presidential candidates pledge to make college more affordable, many of them has ties to for-profit colleges which tend to charge much more to earn a degree.
For the first time in decades, the majority of U.S. school children come from low-income families.
Florida has one of the highest rates in the country — federal data shows just seven states have a higher percentage of low-income students.
That means more students qualify for — and depend on — free meals provided by school districts. And meal service is now a year-round job instead of just when school is in session.
Ever planned Thanksgiving for a dozen relatives? Now imagine planning 200,000 lunches daily.
In Miami-Dade County schools, those meals starts in the district’s test kitchen, where Donna Drummond demonstrates how she makes spinach lasagna, a new addition to menus this year.
She ladles sauce into a pan. Then she places the frozen lasagna rolls — made with whole grain pasta and mozzarella cheese — into the pan.
The dish is designed to be easy and quick to make for hundreds of students. It comes with a salad and a breadstick spiked with low-fat mozzarella cheese.
A new breakfast choice is the guavalito, a lower-sugar version of Miami’s ubiquitous guava-and-cheese pastry. It’s just 100 calories.
These new choices are part of a menu this year featuring more vegetarian options.
Many of Florida’s 2.7 million public school students are already back in class but their schools still don’t have the results of last year’s state assessment exams. The inability to access the scores leaves schools guessing on how to promote students and evaluate teacher’s performance.
The recent viral video of a Kentucky deputy handcuffing a 6-year-old elementary school student raised questions about police presence in public schools. Supporters say the presence of a law enforcement officer deters school violence, fosters respect for the police and calms fears of parents. Opponents believe officers inappropriately take on the role of school disciplinarian and often criminalize children.
Seminole County school leaders want to get rid of the Florida Standards Assessments and replace them with commonly-used national exam. The district lined up some arguments at their school board meeting Tuesday. The state has said the exams are not a suitable replacement.
The Diane Rehm show spent an hour discussing the state of teaching, and why some districts are struggling to find enough teachers.
Evans High School in Orange County used to be known as a dropout factory. But since 2007, it’s gone from a two-time F-rated school to a B-rated school – in one of Orlando’s most troubled neighborhoods. Now, the “community school” concept is spreading to other Florida cities.
Evans is in a neighborhood called Pine Hills, where homes and businesses have bars at the windows. One student, found carrying a Taser, said it was due to her dangerous route home. The neighborhood has exceptionally high rates of juvenile crime and referrals to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
“We have long said at the Department of Children and Families that if we’re ever going to get our arms around neglect and abuse, it has to be a community-wide effort.”
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll. He says Evans has succeeded by becoming what’s called a “community school” — addressing the barriers to student success in a high-risk neighborhood.
“Everything from getting a child to school when they need to be there to making sure they’re fed when they arrive at school to making sure it’s safe going back and forth to school. If there are issues at home that may impact the child’s ability to learn when they get to school, that there’s assistance to do that…”
More Brevard County teachers left their jobs during the past school year than any other year in the last five. And more than 2,000 teachers had left their position or retired during the last six years. School district officials say those numbers aren’t alarming.
Using kid-friendly robots that look like bees, kindergarteners in Central Florida will begin learning basic computer coding skills this coming school year. The plan is designed to help students understand the science of writing programs that tell computers what to do. Seminole County Schools Superintendent Walt Griffin says the ultimate goal is to offer computer coding education in each grade by 2020.
Duval County’s school board voted for stricter penalties for students who get in multiple fights during school. But the board was divided about consequences for students who defend themselves.