11:03 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Senate Starts Moving On Early Learning Reform

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 5:59 pm

Senate K-12 Education Committee Chairman John Legg is following through on a plan to revamp Florida’s early learning programs.

The committee unanimously passed a bill Wednesday to overhaul voluntary pre-kindergarten programs. Legg says it’s a starting point for further talks between the House and Senate.

“We’re taking the bill the Senate passed last year and re-filing that as the base bill moving forward to bring a higher level of transparency and accountability to the VPK providers," he said during a conversation about education on WFSU's "It's About Florida” program.

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1:51 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Buckhorn Struggles with Decision to Fire Elia

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn talks about find a replacement for fired Hillsborough County School Superintendent Mary Ellen Elia.
Credit M. S. Butler

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn weighed in on the firing of Hillsborough County School Superintendent Mary Ellen Elia on Wednesday.

Following Gov. Rick Scott's press conference about his education plan, Mayor Buckhorn spoke with reporters and questioned the School Board's  4-3 decision on Tuesday to let Elia go and buy out the remainder of her contract.

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10:25 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Hillsborough School Board Votes to Terminate Elia’s Contract

MaryEllen Elia’s last day of work will be March 5. “This district means a lot to me,” Elia said after the vote. “I hope the district continues to move forward. I hope for the best for all employees of the district, the students and the team of Hillsborough County.” Board chairwoman Susan Valdes, who requested that the decision be placed on the meeting agenda, said there has been an air of uncertainty and tension felt across the district for months, which was heightened by the November election and recent media reports. “In my mind, this is about buying out the superintendent’s contract, not firing MaryEllen Elia,” Valdes said. “This is a business decision, not a personality contest.” Carol Kurdell, last year’s chairwoman, said she saw no common sense in this vote, adding that the district has the highest financial rating in the state and that students’ test scores are rising, despite tougher standards.
TAMPA - The Hillsborough County School Board voted 4-3 today to terminate superintendent MaryEllen Elia's contract without cause. Board members April Griffin, Sally Harris, Cindy Stuart and Susan Valdes voted to end the contract, with members Doretha Edgecomb, Carol Kurdell and Melissa Snively opposed. Elia's last day of work will be March 5.
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4:19 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Local Professor Testifies Against Campus Concealed Gun Law

If approved, the bill will allow concealed weapons to be carried on Florida college campuses.

A House subcommittee has approved a bill that would allow guns on college campuses in Florida.

If legislators pass the bill during the upcoming session, it will repeal a state law that prevents concealed-carry permit holders from bringing their guns on college campuses and universities around Florida.

Marjorie Sanfilippo, a psychology professor at Eckerd College, testified before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. She believes the rates of psychological disorders in college-age students may lead to trouble for students who have access to concealed weapons.

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10:00 am
Mon January 19, 2015

State Lawmakers Want To Add Financial Education

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 10:49 am

Lawmakers want Florida students to be smarter about their money.

They’ve introduced a bill to make a financial literacy course a high school graduation requirement.

Students would have to take lessons on taxes, compound interest, insurance, and how to weigh the cost and benefits of decisions.

The bill was introduced by Fort Myers Republican Representative Heather Fitzenhagen and Miami GOP Representative Manny Diaz.

The bill says the Florida Department of Education would choose a non-profit group to create the lessons.

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9:40 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

An Education Preview with Senate Ed Chairman John Legg

Sen. John Legg (R-Lutz)
Credit Florida Senate

Florida lawmakers say they’re serious about addressing what’s become a testing crisis in the state’s public schools. In addition to testing, they’re also planning to tackle a tech gap. Senator John Legg chairs the chamber's K-12 Education Committee.

Lutz Republican Senator John Legg knows education.

“We have converging lines of opportunity here with teacher evaluations, technology, testing and school grades—all coming to a head in 2015-2016," he says, summing up the current state of Florida's school accountability system.

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9:25 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Amateur Radio Club Connects Miami Students With Space Station

A student asks a question of European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoferretti while Dade Radio Club of Miami president Miguel Garate looks on.

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 7:47 pm

At first, the kids in the auditorium at Richmond Heights Middle School weren’t sure a they'd hear a voice above the ear-burning static.

Dade Radio Club of Miami president Miguel Garate kept signaling the space station.  

“NA1SS, NA1SS, this is Richmond Heights. Over,” Garate said repeatedly, trying to hail the space station.

They had just minutes before astronaut Samantha Cristoferretti would be out of range.

A voice cut through the white noise.

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8:33 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Final Word Before USF Graduate Moves On

Noor Shakfeh (center) with Syrian children in one of the refugee camps. (March 2013)
Photo courtesy of Jihad Saadeh

We first met University of South Florida student Noor Shakfeh after she spent her spring break in Syria helping at a refugee camp along the Turkish border almost two years ago.

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7:00 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Florida Education Board Wants Legislature To Reconsider Class Sizes

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 6:57 pm

Florida’s public school class size limits could be up for reconsideration in the upcoming legislative session. The state’s public school governing board wants lawmakers to consider revising the system.

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7:02 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Fewer And Better: How Lawmakers Want To Change State Testing

Most students will take the Florida Standards Assessments online.

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 4:06 pm

When lawmakers return to Tallahassee in March for the annual legislative session, they have a lot of questions they need to answer about public school testing.

Senators laid out their concerns about the state testing system last week at a series of meetings.

They don’t know how many tests the state requires or how long it takes to complete those exams.

They don’t know how much the state and school districts spend on testing.

And they’re not convinced they can depend on all the results of those exams.

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6:10 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Gov. Scott Proposes 'Historic' School Budget Increase


Making good on a campaign promise, Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday he will ask lawmakers to provide the highest per-student funding for education in state history during the legislative session that begins in March.

Scott said his "Keep Florida Working" budget would include $7,176 per student, about $50 above the previous high in the 2007-08 budget year. That spending plan was approved before the financial crisis that caused the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

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3:36 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Obama In Tennessee To Promote Free Community College

President Obama speaks at a Ford assembly plant on Wednesday in Wayne, Mich., about the resurgent automotive and manufacturing sector.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Fri January 9, 2015 7:15 pm

President Obama is in Tennessee previewing some of the big issues he'll talk about in his State of the Union address later this month. Friday, he'll speak in Knoxville, focusing on education and an idea that is gathering steam in some states: making community college tuition-free.

In the emerging debate over this idea, there are skeptics and there are true believers.

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6:47 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Florida Teachers Union Says it Will Drop Voucher Lawsuit

Florida's union that represents teachers says it is dropping a lawsuit aimed at blocking an expansion of the state's main private school voucher program.

Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis in late December tossed the lawsuit. The judge ruled those who filed the lawsuit didn't show how the expansion would harm them.

The Florida Education Association had filed the lawsuit on behalf of the parents of three students and a Lee County teacher. It contended legislators did not follow correct procedures when they approved the expansion.

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12:28 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Scott Eyes Graduate School Tuition For Price Cuts

An FSU student protests against tuition hikes. Florida lawmakers recently stopped letting the state university system governing board approve tuition increases at public universities.

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 7:03 pm

After years of pushing to keep undergraduate tuition down at the state’s public colleges and universities, Governor Rick Scott is now targeting graduate degree programs.

The federal government says tuition now makes up the greater share of funding at public colleges and universities across the country. The same is true for Florida, where dollars paid by students are greater than the state’s funding to the schools.

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3:42 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Class Size Versus School Size

Credit National Education Association

It’s been 12 years since Florida voters passed the class size amendment, limiting the number of students in certain classes to between 18 and 25, depending on the grade.

Now, a new report suggests focusing on smaller schools - instead of classes - might be more effective.

The School of Arts and Sciences in Tallahassee (SAS) has just over 300 students. The waiting list to get into this K-8 charter school is much longer. This is 6th grader Mary Stafford’s first year.

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