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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.

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is all grown up. But has it grown into a monster?

That’s the question raised by a Tampa Bay Times article recounting the birth and adolescence of the FCAT:

President Obama and Mitt Romney have very different opinions about immigration.    But both of them agree on one thing: giving green cards to international students with advanced degrees. 

What that would mean for Florida?

"I would staple a green card to a diploma for someone who gets an advanced degree in America."

Thats Mitt Romney. He says President Obama hasn't done enough to retain talented foreign students. But Obama seems to agree with Romney:

Tuition Hike Rates Settled for State Universities

Jun 22, 2012

After many votes and re-votes, the Board of Governors finally settled on tuition hike percentage rates for Florida's universities.

On Thursday, universities proposed a range of percentage increases for the upcoming school year's tuition. The Board of Governors was having a hard time accepting many of those proposals.

During its meeting in Orlando this week, the Board of Governors expressed its displeasure with the University of South Florida's graduation rates.

And if USF doesn't get its act together, the group that oversees the state's higher education system might not approve future tuition increases.

The percentage of first-time-in-college students that graduate in four years from USF is 34 percent. About 50 percent graduate in six years.

Florida was the only state that received an 'A' grade for access and success for both it's two and four-year higher education institutions. That's  according to a report card released Tuesday.

The report card is done by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce which is affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It measures performance and policies of universities and colleges from across the country.

Gov. Scott Doesn't Want Tuition Hikes

Jun 20, 2012

Governor Rick Scott is telling the Florida Board of Governors he doesn't support the tuition increases being asked for by the state's universities.

Scott says he wants a great university system for better job growth, but he wants that done without institutions hiking up their tuition.

According to Florida Today, Scott said, "We’re not in a system where we can afford a bunch of ‘nice to haves.' "

USF Looking to Hike Up Tuition 11%

Jun 14, 2012

There's good and bad news today for undergraduate resident students at the University of South Florida. 

The bad news: the board of trustees has approved a tuition increase for the upcoming school year. The good news: it's 11 percent and that's less than last years increase of 15 percent.

With the $300 million budget cuts made to Florida public universities this year, universities are scrambling to make up some of that money.

Q&A With Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush

Jun 11, 2012
Chip Somodevilla / Getty News Images

StateImpact Florida spoke with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush about his role as a national education leader, and how he's using his experience in Florida to convince other states to adopt reforms pioneered in the Sunshine State.

Bush spoke about Republicans and Democrats finding common ground on education, his lukewarm support for federal reforms and the defeat of the parent trigger bill during the last legislative session.

Here's an excerpt:

Standing in front of a banner reading "There is a Voice!" a group of Polk County business leaders and politicians today  rallied in support of the new Florida Polytechnic University.

In attendance was  State Sen. J.D. Alexander, the driving force behind Florida Polytechnic's contentious  split from the University of South Florida. The group said they  wanted to move discussion and press coverage about the school into a positive light and away from the laser-like focus on Alexander.

Jeb Bush Taking Florida Education Ideas Nationwide

May 30, 2012
Joe Raedle / Getty News Images

You won't find much that President Obama and Mitt Romney agree on, but both parties' presidential candidates have praised former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's education ideas.

Bush is taking ideas he pioneered in Florida national, particularly requiring third graders pass a state reading test before graduating to fourth grade.

It's one reason Indiana education superintendent Tony Bennett says Bush is the most influential person in U.S. education.

Hillsborough County teacher Robert Pierce says he's opting out of his school's merit pay system -- for now.

"I'll be honest with you. I don't participate. I think it's a double-edged sword," he said.

But he soon won't have any choice. Lawmakers have mandated merit pay in every Florida school district by 2014.

Two Tampa Bay-area student have been named winners in the National STEM Video Game Challenge.

It’s a competition to motivate interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by learning, playing and making video games.

Twenty-eight middle school and high school students from across the U.S. were selected as winners for their original game designs.

Shashank Mahesh won in the middle school division for “Mission 17639: Planetcorp.” He lives in Gibsonton.

And Daniel Gasiorek of Riverview won in the high school division for “ViViD ABYSS.”

The Things You Don't Learn in College About Teaching

May 24, 2012

Teachers are facing increasing pressure about merit pay, the constantly-evolving FCAT, and students facing tough times at home.

Some Florida teachers voiced their hopes and frustrations as part of a town hall meeting which is set to air Thursday May 24 on WUSF TV.  It's part of our "American Graduate" project, which promotes success in high school and beyond.

I went to the town hall meeting as both a reporter and as a college student who's trying to decide whether to become a teacher.

Tampa Prep's "Mr. Man": Music Shows No Color

May 24, 2012
Bobbie O'Brien

Lots of folks will tell you they have at least one teacher who affected them in a positive way on into adulthood.

Maybe that teacher taught you something that was not necessarily part of the normal curriculum. Such is the case with Drew Alexander, a WUSF intern, and his music teacher at Tampa Preparatory High School.

If you were to walk by the music room on the bottom floor of Tampa Prep, you’re likely to hear teacher Lyle Manwaring stepping out a rhythm for his students or playing his trumpet.

The Select Committee on the new Florida Polytechnic University met Wednesday for the first time. It's likely the transition details will not be completed by the July 1 deadline.

After the creation of Florida Polytechnic, a select committee now has to figure out the details of the transition. But the committee has more questions than answers.

The main problem: Florida Polytechnic still doesn't have a Board of Trustees.

State Education Commissioner to Defend FCAT in Tampa

May 23, 2012

All the talk about falling scores on Florida's FCAT tests has prompted the state's education chief to hold a series of public forums. The first one will be in Tampa tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Hillsborough Community College.

USF isn’t just launching one summer program for high school and homeschool students, but thirteen different programs. University Beat on WUSF 89.7 has a preview of the new Pre-College 2012 initiative, which is designed to get young people interested early in both college and future careers. 

USF Dept. of Government & Intl. Affairs

The University of South Florida's brand new Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies holds its first official event Monday night, as it welcomes British journalist Christopher de Bellaigue.

The Center unites experts from the academic, government, military and private worlds to discuss how the United States' foreign and domestic policies interact.

Florida’s next House Speaker says increasing the number of college graduates will require online universities.

Online schools won’t replace traditional universities, Rep. Will Weatherford said, but make higher education more accessible and affordable.

Pasco County School Board

A Florida teacher is facing dismissal for punishing her students by making them wear a plastic cone around their neck and head.

You know the collar -- it's what veterinarians put on dogs to keep them from licking themselves.

It's also the collar featured in the Pixar animated film "Up." The character Dug is forced to wear "the cone of shame" for being disobedient.

Florida House of Representatives

Florida is looking for a few good trustees for its new public university, Florida Polytechnic in Lakeland. The state's twelfth university was created by the legislature and approved by the governor April 20th, 2012.

Late Monday, the governor's office sent out a press release calling for a national search for potential trustees and state residency is not a requirement as the press release points out:

Sarah Gonzalez / StateImpact Florida

There is a place on school campuses for students who break the rules.

In some Florida schools, it’s called SCSI.

Marcus Pryor, a junior at Miami Northwestern Senior High, thinks it stands for School Criminal Scene Investigation.

SCSI actually stands for School Center for Special Instruction. And in Miami, it’s where students go when they get an in-school suspension.

It’s an alternative to out-of-school suspension. Florida schools can use for offenses considered minor, like consistent tardiness, wearing baggy clothing or cutting class.

Yoselis Ramos isn’t very good at math. She admits as much.

So why, then, does she want to be a math teacher?

“I’m pretty stubborn and I’m not a person who quits,” she says.

The USF sophomore recently joined a group of Hillsborough County teachers on a bus trip to Jacksonville. They were part of a television town-hall meeting of teachers from across Florida sponsored by the American Graduate project.

Sen. Nelson: Keep Student Loan Interest Rates Low

May 3, 2012
Photo Credit: Matthew Gil

If Congress doesn't take any action, current student interest rates will double by July 1st. Senator Bill Nelson visited the University of South Florida Tampa campus Thursday to talk with students on how it would affect them.

Keeping the current interest rate at 3.4 percent for one more year will cost the federal government $6 billion and Congress can't agree where to get the funds from.

University of North Florida

The Florida Studies Program at USF St. Petersburg is adding one of the country's leading experts on the history of the Spanish colonial experience in Florida.

On August 1st, Dr. J. Michael Francis, chairman of the History Department at the University of North Florida, will take the newly created Hough Family Endowed Chair in Florida Studies.

The USF Sun Dome is coming back to life. It's been out of action since last summer, when a major renovation began. Now the work is done, and the ribbon will be cut Tuesday afternoon.

It's taken more than $35 million and nearly a year, but the USF Sun Dome is about to make its maiden appearance after a floor-to-roof renovation.  It will bear little resemblance to the arena that first opened in the 1980's, and hosted events from Frank Sinatra to the White Stripes.

No Layoffs At USF Poly For At Least A Year

Apr 30, 2012
John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

The University of South Florida may be closing its Lakeland campus, but those employees will have jobs for at least another year.

That’s according to USF president Judy Genshaft, who says employees will stay on staff until at least July 1, 2013.  Some employees left a meeting last week worried they may lose their jobs as early as July 1 of this year.

Teachers Discuss High School Drop Out Rates in Florida

Apr 29, 2012

An initiative called American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen, which is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, brought together public school teachers from across the state, including Tampa, to Jacksonville this weekend.

The teachers discussed the 1.3 million kids that drop out of high school every year in  America.

Last year, more than 83 thousand high school students didn't graduate in Florida, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education.

 Tallahassee teacher Cynthia McBride found it interesting that schools seem to share the same problems.

Photo Courtesy of Bay News 9

A USF Polytechnic investigation report recommends firing two top administrators campus regional vice chancellor for planning and facilities Alice Murray, and budget director Josh Bresler.

The report says they knowingly violated university policies.

It also says the former chancellor Marshall Goodman should be further investigated.

The investigation, brought on by employees' complaints, found the misuse of funds including purchases of Star Wars statues, an adult-size slide, soda fountains, and a video/audio wall that cost more than $400,000.

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.

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