M.S Butler

A Hillsborough County project to help teens is expanding across the bay with the help of some well known local dignitaries.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Tampa Bay Rays President Matt Silverman and others broke ground Tuesday on what will soon will be a residential facility for homeless teens in Pinellas County.

The project, funded through private donations, comes from the efforts of Start Right Now a program working to end homelessness for area teens.

 Vicki Sokolik  is the founder and executive director.

M.S Butler

A college education is generally considered a student's best shot at getting a good job these days, and it's often assumed most high schoolers are prepared to attend college.

But there's one group that has been quietly excluded from that process.

A program at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg  is giving these students college experience that while it's not a traditional degree, it's giving them a head start on their career goals.

Gov. Scott Unlikely to Get Full School Funding

Mar 17, 2015
Texas Tribune graphic

House budget writers unveiled an education spending plan Monday that would provide public schools with almost $47 less per student than Gov. Rick Scott proposed, and a key senator said his chamber was also unlikely to meet the governor's number when a Senate blueprint is released Tuesday.

The two developments cast increasing doubt on one of Scott's chief priorities only two weeks into the 60-day legislative session.

A proposal allowing guns to be carried on public college and university campuses is gaining steam in the legislature. While the bill applies to all public higher educations in Florida—One school, Florida State University—is dominating the conversation.

School districts would have to share local school construction and maintenance money with charter schools, according to an amendment filed by an influential state senator.

Sen. Don Gaetz, former Senate president, filed the amendment Tuesday. The amendment would require half of the money raised by an optional local property tax to be split between charter and traditional schools on a per-student basis.

Senate Higher Ed Panel Backs Guns on Campus

Mar 16, 2015

With lawmakers split along party lines, a Senate education committee Monday approved a controversial bill that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on the campuses of state colleges and universities.

The Senate Higher Education Committee voted 6-3 to approve the bill (SB 176), which has drawn opposition from many university leaders but has the backing of the politically powerful National Rifle Association.

Clevis Harrison / PBS

This week, PBS is launching a new documentary series “180 Days."

One of the films focuses on Hartsville, South Carolina, a rural and poor district which has managed to become one of the highest rating school districts according to South Carolina’s ranking.

Last week, dozens of Florida school districts had to postpone state testing because of problems with the new Florida Standards Assessments.

Students couldn’t log in to the online writing exam -- and some who did were booted out and temporarily lost their answers.

The problems seem to have been resolved Thursday. By Friday, more than half of students scheduled to take the online writing exam had finished.

Here's five questions about what happened and what's next.

What happened?

Students could see an immediate change in the number of tests they take under plans moving fast in the legislature. The move is a response to widespread criticism of the state’s new standardized testing infrastructure, and comes as districts continue reporting problems with the new exams.

The 2015-2016 school year could begin as early as August 10. That means families could have to cut vacations short. State law prohibits schools from starting earlier than Labor Day, but the holiday falls in the second week of September, making districts antsy.

AP Photo

Several school districts on Tuesday continued to suspend Florida's new standardized tests for a second day, despite assurances that the problems had been fixed.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart early in the morning asked districts to resume using the online portal that middle school and high school students must use in order to log on and take the state's annual standardized tests. Testing had been suspended a day earlier because of technological problems.

Best-selling author Kim John Payne is hoping the community will embrace his ideas about parenting.  

Widespread Problems Reported as School Tests Begin

Mar 2, 2015
Ann Douglas / Flickr

Students across Florida reportedly had problems Monday logging on to the state's new online-testing platform, raising questions about the testing system as lawmakers consider an overhaul.

Education groups and media reports said students had problems taking the new Florida Standards Assessments in a variety of districts, including populous counties like Hillsborough, Miami-Dade and Orange. Some schools or districts had decided to suspend testing.


At Miami’s iPrep Academy, getting ready for the state’s new standardized test includes rapping.

Two students are recording the daily announcements, telling classmates when and where they need to be starting today.

“Monday is ninth graders, with last name A to G,” one student raps, in a rhyme that’s no threat to Miami’s Rick Ross.

“On Tuesday, it’s ninth graders with last name H through Z,” his partner continues.

“All testing is in room 2 – 0 – 4!” they conclude together, Beastie Boys-style.

Daylina Miller / WUSF News

On Wednesday, Eric Webb-Fiske canceled two classes to participate in National Adjunct Walkout Day.

Webb-Fiske, an adjunct instructor at Hillsborough Community College and a graduate assistant at USF, stood in front of USF's Marshall Student Center, trying to get students to sign a petition that calls for better pay and more security for adjunct faculty. 

Gov. Scott Issues Order to Shelve Test

Feb 25, 2015

Days before testing was scheduled to begin, Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order Tuesday suspending the administration of an 11th-grade language arts test that Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has asked the Legislature to eliminate.

The move was expected; Stewart had recommended last week that Scott suspend the exam so that lawmakers can consider legislation to permanently scrap it. Critics of the test say it's redundant because students' graduation requirements in language arts are fulfilled by an assessment given in the 10th grade.

Everyone wants to improve the quality of education in America.

But there are no silver bullets to accomplish that.

Parental involvement, a more challenging curriculum and a longer school year are just some of the ideas regularly suggested for low graduation rates.

But in Midtown St. Petersburg, in one of the poorest and most educationally challenged areas of Pinellas County, a small, little known middle school is getting results that are raising some eyebrows.

Governor Rick Scott has issued an executive order suspending at least one of the state-mandated exams students have to take, and that’s just the start of Florida’s efforts to dial back its testing requirements amid public discontent.

At dinner tables across Florida, parents and their elementary school children are trying to solve a math problem: What’s going on with my kid’s homework?

Florida is one of dozens of states that has switched to new math standards based on Common Core. The standards outline what students should know in every grade.

Experts say it means big changes to how math is taught. More focus on understanding concepts and solving problems multiple ways. Less memorization of formulas and grinding out worksheets full of similar problems.

A Tallahassee Judge is weighing whether to allow a constitutional challenge to the state’s tax credit scholarship program to proceed. Since its inception, the program has been a target for legislative challenges, but the current pending litigation has generated larger, more expansive efforts by supporters to get the lawsuit tossed.