Education

Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times

Joanne McCall, president of the Florida Education Association, speaks with WLRN and State Impact Florida's Luis Hernandez.

Wikimedia Commons

There appears to be early backing by lawmakers to let voters - and not the governor - decide who should run Florida’s Department of Education.

On Tuesday, a Senate committee unanimously approved the bill (SJR942) that returns the Florida Commissioner of Education to an elected, cabinet level position – if approved by 60 percent of voters.

The push to bring back recess to the state's public schools got another boost Tuesday. A bill that would require 20 minutes of recess every day for elementary school students passed its second House committee.

Several mothers -- who called themselves "recess moms" --  grew clearly emotional when speaking in favor of the bill. Amy Narvaez, a parent of students in Orange County, told the committee that she became a "recess mom" in October of 2014, when her youngest daughter  started kindergarten.

Lawmakers Back Requiring School Recess

Jan 27, 2016
Robin Sussingham

A House education panel Tuesday moved forward with a proposal that would require school districts to provide 100 minutes of recess each week in elementary schools.

Robin Sussingham

Physics is the most  fundamental of sciences; it's an essential stepping stone for  careers in engineering or science. But around the country, fewer than 40 percent of high school students take a physics class. In Florida , that number is much lower -- only about a quarter of high school students take physics. Experts say that the trend affects the future earning potential of the state's students.

AP Photo

Thousands of parents and children rallied Tuesday against a lawsuit that could end the state’s largest private school voucher program. Protestors gathered in Tallahassee to support the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship.

Teachers Call Foul On State Education Policy

Jan 15, 2016

With lawmakers in town for Session, many groups pick up the mic to air their grievances. The cries of teachers filled the Capitol Courtyard Thursday.

The State Board of Education has approved a scoring rubric for its new standardized exam. But  some are disappointed the bar isn’t being set higher.

Florida House of Representatives

Right now, Florida’s top educator is two steps removed from voters. The state education commissioner is appointed by a board and that board is appointed by the governor.

But lawmakers are considering legislation that would change the Florida Commissioner of Education into a statewide, elected position and add the post to the Florida Cabinet.

The idea has been proposed before, but this time, it’s gaining traction according to State Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach. She said parents, local school boards and other lawmakers are interested.

State Sen. John Legg heads the education committee in the Florida Senate. StateImpact Florida's Robin Sussingham sat down with Legg recently, and asked him to sum up the most important education issues that will be in front of the legislature this year.

Legg: The biggest education issues I see are class size; [also], the House has made a priority of looking at Best and Brightest which is a recruitment and merit reward for teachers around  $10,000...

Sussingham: That's pretty controversial. If you took the SAT 30 years ago, you're going to get $10,000 if you did well?

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There is a renewed call to make Florida’s Education Secretary an elected position – again.

The state’s top educator used to be elected statewide and served as a member of the Florida Cabinet. The cabinet also served as the Florida Board of Education.

flsenate.gov

It's been just days since President Obama signed into law the new Every Child Succeeds Act, doing away with No Child Left Behind. State lawmakers likely will not be dealing with the law's effects during the next session, but anticipate big changes in 2017.

Associated Press

Less than a mile from the state Capitol, a former steakhouse shows little evidence that it was once part of a movement to change Florida’s schools.

Robin Sussingham

The Polk County School Board has given the nod to a "recess" requirement for the county's public elementary schools during their work session on Tuesday.

Higher Ed Funding, Teacher Bonuses Move Forward

Dec 4, 2015

Proposals adding performance funding for colleges and universities into law passed House and Senate committees on Thursday, but the legislation faced concerns over university standards and a House-backed plan to reward teachers for their test scores.

Education Commissioner Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Dec 3, 2015
Florida Department of Education

The state's top education official has been diagnosed with breast cancer, the Department of Education announced Thursday.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart will remain on the job despite the illness, agency spokeswoman Meghan Collins said in a written statement.

Robin Sussingham

Remember recess? When you knew that if you just sat still for a couple more hours, you and your friends could go racing out to the merry-go-round or the hopscotch court for a daily dose of fun? In many public elementary schools in Florida, recess has become a thing of the past. And parents are not happy.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

As soon as the fourth and fifth graders at Natural Bridge Elementary were handed the lyrics to "Amazing Grace," they were ready to sing out.

But first, they needed a lesson in the four voice types of a choir – bass, tenor, alto and soprano.

One by one members of the group added their part while the students waited to sing the melody. Finally, it was time to add soprano Sara Guttenberg.

“I really hope she sings the melody,” tenor Patrick Muehleise kids.

The students are ready. They join in before the conductor gives them their cue.

The Florida High School Athletics Association continues to draw scrutiny from some lawmakers. Now they’re gearing up to water down the association’s powers.

Florida State University President John Thrasher is condemning cable network CNN’s decision to air “The Hunting Ground” a film about campus rape, later this week.

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