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 in South Florida to bring you a more comprehensive look at learning.

Our longtime education coverage also includes work as part of StateImpact Florida. You can see prior coverage from that project here.

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.

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.

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