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Education

We're dedicated to telling you stories about policy and public spending, and how they affect students in Florida schools. Our WUSF News reporters team up with our public media partners across Florida to bring you a more comprehensive look at learning.

To see coverage from our prior StateImpact Florida project, visit here.

USF: Not Enough Money to Keep All USF-Poly Employees

Apr 24, 2012

Now that USF Polytechnic in Lakeland is becoming an independent university, one question is, what happens to all the current USF Poly faculty and staff?

Well, there may not be enough money to keep everyone on the payroll. The state Legislature only appropriated $10 million of the $18 million USF says it needs to absorb the faculty and staff.

USF President Judy Genshaft told USF Poly employees on Monday, "We will not be able to hire every single person," according to the Lakeland Ledger.

Courtesy of Dreamstime.com

One in two college graduates don’t have a job or they are underemployed where they don’t fully use their skills and knowledge, according to an Associated Press analysis.

Close to 54 percent of people younger than 25 who have a bachelor’s degree were jobless or underemployed in 2011.

Many young graduates with bachelor’s degrees are taking up lower-wage jobs like bartending, retail clerking, or waitressing.

Mark Wilson / Getty News Images

Gov. Rick Scott's decision on legislation setting the future of the University of South Florida Polytechnic is due this week.

Scott is feeling political pressure from both sides. The Lakeland Ledger is reporting Scott will announce his decision today.

StateImpact Florida takes a look at some of the reasons Scott could cite for signing (or allowing to become law without a signature) or vetoing the law.

Science Educator Questions the FCAT

Apr 19, 2012

The FCAT test is only as good as its questions…and one science educator says those questions are confusing at best.

Here's one example -- try to answer this sample FCAT question for 5th graders:

Which is scientifically testable?

  1. Orange blossoms give off a sweeter smell than gardenia flowers.
  2. The petals of red roses are softer than the petals of yellow roses.
  3. Sunflowers with larger petals attract more bees than sunflowers with smaller petals.

According to the testmaker, the correct answer is three.

Imagine School at North Port wants to drug test students 6th grade and above starting the next school year, according to the Herald-Tribune.

The students would be required to pass a drug test to attend the school and pass one random drug test every year to stay enrolled.

If students test positive, they would be referred to drug counseling and those who continuously test positive would be removed from the school.

Tampa City Council Coming to USF

Apr 17, 2012

Several Tampa City Council members are coming to USF  to answer students' questions tonight at a forum, sponsored by the student government of USF.

They will be discussing the city's economic future and how to keep USF graduates in Tampa. They will also explain how students can get more involved in local government.

Event coordinator Abdool Aziz says the event is a good opportunity for students.

Why College Aid Will Become An Election Year Issue

Apr 12, 2012
Justin Sullivan / Getty News Images

You know Democrats and their allies plan to use  cuts to Medicare included in the U.S. House budget against presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and any other member of the GOP running for office this fall.

At a press conference in Tampa Thursday, Democrats ran out another line of attack on what the House budget would cut — college aid.

U.S. Rep Kathy Castor, a Democrat, and Hillsborough Community College president Ken Atwater raised the alarm about $170 billion in cuts to the federal Pell Grant program within the House budget.

USF Ranked 50th Nationwide in Research Expenditures

Apr 12, 2012

The University of South Florida now ranks 50th in the nation for research expenditures, among all U.S. universities, public or private.

The new ranking by the National Science Foundation places USF in the elite class of research universities, joining Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Yale and Harvard within the top rankings nationwide. USF is second in Florida only to the University of Florida.

Some USF St. Petersburg students are learning the nuts and bolts of presidential campaigns by volunteering for them in a political science class called “Road to the White House.” 

This week's University Beat on WUSF Public Media introduces you to Professor Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan and some of her students, and tells you about some of the experiences, from meeting the candidates to debating reality TV stars.

Professors at the University of South Florida Polytechnic and University of South Florida at St. Petersburg earn a higher average salary than colleagues at USF's flagship Tampa campus, according to data compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Professors at USF Poly earn $124,400, on average, or $17,200 more than the average professor at the Tampa campus.

University of Miami professors reported the highest average pay in the state at $140,800.

Rubio Working On New Version of DREAM Act

Apr 9, 2012
Mandel Ngan / AFP

Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is working on an alternative version of the DREAM Act, which would allow some undocumented youths and young adults a pathway to citizenship.

Rubio's version would require undocumented immigrants wait to become citizens, he told the Tampa Bay Times, but would allow those who qualify to remain in the U.S. legally while waiting.

USF University Communications & Marketing

The federal government has decided not to intervene in a false claims suit filed against USF by a former doctoral candidate.

That student accused College of Medicine researchers of falsifying scientific data to win federal and state research grants. 

Augmented Reality Helping Students to Read

Apr 6, 2012

Reading teacher Audra Cervi says kids pay attention to their reading lesson when the letter ‘J’ turns into a jumping, blue 3-D jaguar.

Cervi places a flash card with the letter J under a special camera. Across the room a jaguar springs to life on an electronic screen.

It's not the U.S. News list of top universities, but the University of South Florida is at least getting the attention of another national media outlet. 

Citing its research power, the Washington Post's "College Inc." website has named USF as one of five "up-and-coming" universities.

TAMPA - A lot of students go to College - but they end up leaving without that sheepskin up on the wall. Nearly 700,000 people in the Tampa Bay area alone have some college experience - but no degree. That's the work from a new consortium of local university, college and business leaders who want to get them back in the classroom.

 They call it Graduate Tampa Bay.

 Hillsborough Community College President Ken Atwater says there's several common things every local college and university is doing to improve graduation rates.

Florida House of Representatives

The Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based, think tank that has been an ardent supporter of school choice, has published a piece opposing the ‘parent trigger.’

The law allows the majority of parents at chronically low-performing schools to petition for one of four methods to overhaul their schools, including replacing administrators and staff, closing the school or converting to a charter school.

USF BasketBulls Celebrate Their Season

Mar 21, 2012

 TAMPA - The USF Bulls Basketball team fell just short of the NCAA's Sweet Sixteen, but a crowd gathered today at the university's Tampa Campus to celebrate their success.

Bulls Coach Stan Heath - who was honored as the Big East Coach of the Year - told the crowd that they'll be back.

"We got a little taste of dancing," he told the crowd at the Marshall Center's outdoor amphitheater, "We're going to be dancing a whole lot more. Go Bulls!"

The Miami high school attended by Trayvon Martin, the student shot and killed by a neighborhood watch leader in Central Florida, held a moment of silence for Martin this morning, students and staff have told StateImpact Florida.

Students at Dr. Michael M. Krop High School say it is the first acknowledgement of Martin’s death since he was killed while visiting his father’s girlfriend’s home near Orlando.

USF Chooses New Dean for College of Business

Mar 20, 2012
Photo Courtesy Walton College, University of Arkansas

After an eight month world-wide search, the USF College of Business has found its new dean: Dr. Moez Limayen.

He comes from the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, which U.S. World and News Reports ranked as the 25th best among public universities.

Dr. Limayen said the college’s vision will be “distinctive and very exciting.” It includes the following strategic priorities:

USF Provides Alternative Spring Break for Students

Mar 12, 2012

Students who are interested in alternative spring break have to apply and indicate one social issue they want to serve - like poverty, education, or public health.

Students are then matched to a location with that social issue. Some stay in Tampa -- others are going as far away as Virginia and even Nicaragua.

Angel Garcia, coordinator of Bulls Service Breaks, says the idea is to create more informed and engaged citizens.

Mount Holyoke College

Donal B. O'Shea has been chosen to be the next president of New College of Florida in Sarasota.  The school's Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of the appointment on Saturday.

Dr. O'Shea comes to Sarasota from South Hadley, Massachusetts, where he is the dean of faculty and vice president for Academic Affairs at Mount Holyoke College.  

Reading teacher Audra Cervi says kids pay attention to their reading lesson when the letter ‘J’ turns into a jumping, blue 3-D jaguar.

Cervi places a flash card with the letter J under a special camera. Across the room a jaguar springs to life on an electronic screen.

A small group of kindergartners at Audubon Park Elementary School near Orlando squeal at the sight. Some reach out to grab the critter.

Pinellas County schools

Bonnie Harvin says her 11-year-old daughter is doing well at Life Force Arts and Technology Academy in Clearwater.

“She’s a straight A student,” says Harvin. “Her FCAT scores are above grade level. So yes, I do think she has improves. A lot”

But Pinellas County school board members say the evidence to close Life Force is “overwhelming.” The charter school is in bankruptcy, it changed its curriculum without permission and it’s failing to serve students with disabilities.

Just three weeks ago, the University of South Florida was confronted with a $128 million cut in funding at its Tampa campus. That proposed 60 percent budget reduction is now down to 21 percent for USF/Tampa which President Judy Genshaft said is fair and in line with universities of similar size.

The question for the universities is how to make up for the budget shortfall. One solution lawmakers took off the table - they did not approve tuition increases to make up for the funding reduction.

USF Poly Puts Staff, Student Recruitment On Hold

Mar 2, 2012
Phil Coale / Associated Press

The University of South Florida Polytechnic is not recruiting faculty or students while lawmakers debate the school's future, its interim regional chancellor told The Lakeland Ledger.

From the story:

It's not an atmosphere under which a quality academic staff can be drawn in, said Touchton  "We just feel like we need to wait and see what happens."  Advertisements ­previously posted for various open positions have been discontinued.

USF is facing a budget cut of around 20 percent. That could affect everything from summer school to the operation of the new pharmacy college.

Senate budget chief JD Alexander is says USF should dip into its reserve fund to offset the cuts. But USF Board of Trustees Chairman John Ramil says the university can't do that.

It's mandated to set aside a percentage of its budget - and it has to keep cash on hand for an emergency, such as a hurricane.

The Florida Board of Governors has just announced that student enrollment in the state's universities is up three percent from last year.

But there's are three exceptions to that growth -- FAMU, University of Florida, and the biggest drop of all -- the University of South Florida, which lost almost one percent of enrollment.

That means USF is no longer the 3rd largest university in Florida -- it's fourth, behind University of Central Florida (up four percent!), UF, Florida International University, and then USF.

Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers Association

Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers Association president Jean Clements says dual efforts to toughen Florida's school grading system and approve a law allowing a majority of parents to choose how to restructure their child's failing school amount to an education land grab for private business.

Clements' op-ed was published on the Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog.

Clements argues Florida Department of Education is changing its grade standards with the intention of failing more schools. The agency argues raising standards will compel schools to find ways to improve.

Another School Bus Crash in Manatee County

Mar 1, 2012

We've just received word that eight children have been injured, none seriously, in a bus crash in Manatee County this morning.

This comes less than two months after another big school bus accident in Manatee County that injured 23 students.

Which leads to the question - is this just bad luck for Manatee County bus drivers, or is there some sort of training they need?

USF College of Pharmacy Dean: We Need Full $6 Million

Feb 29, 2012

Students and faculty at the USF School of Pharmacy told the media today that $3 million is not enough.

The Florida Senate originally proposed a $6 million cut to the USF College of Pharmacy, but later reinstated half of it.

The dean of USF's College of Pharmacy, Dr. Kevin Sneed, is working to get back the original whole amount.

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