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.

Massive Education Bill Approved on Final Day

Mar 12, 2016

A wide-ranging education bill dealing with everything from funding for high-performing universities to high-school membership in athletic associations made it through the final day of the legislative session Friday, despite the long odds that such policy "trains" often face.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Computer coding is the language that tells a computer what to do, but is it a foreign language? The Florida Senate has approved a bill saying yes; if it passes into law, high school students could substitute computer coding for required foreign language credits. It's an attempt to get more of the state's students into computer science classes.

A Clearwater-based charter school company is facing increased scrutiny.

Robin Sussingham / WUSF

College can be expensive, and most families need some help paying for it. To get that help, they have to fill out something called the FAFSA  -- "the Free Application for Federal Student Aid." The FAFSA is important. In 2014, Florida high school grads left unclaimed more than $167 MILLION  in federal grant money  -- which they wouldn't have had to pay back -- because they didn't turn in a FAFSA.

Kristen M. Clark

The Florida House of Representatives last week wrestled with key education proposals. 
 

The Florida House has approved several education bills changing everything from the way students can transfer to how how quickly they can advance in school. But some of those proposals face opposition in the Senate when they get there.

Like many parents of high school juniors, I'm getting anxious about upcoming college applications and what it'll take to get in, such as doing well on the SAT. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that the College Board, creator of the SAT,  is debuting a new test in March and these are the first changes in more than a decade.

Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times

Joanne McCall, president of the Florida Education Association, speaks with WLRN and State Impact Florida's Luis Hernandez.

Wikimedia Commons

There appears to be early backing by lawmakers to let voters - and not the governor - decide who should run Florida’s Department of Education.

On Tuesday, a Senate committee unanimously approved the bill (SJR942) that returns the Florida Commissioner of Education to an elected, cabinet level position – if approved by 60 percent of voters.

The push to bring back recess to the state's public schools got another boost Tuesday. A bill that would require 20 minutes of recess every day for elementary school students passed its second House committee.

Several mothers -- who called themselves "recess moms" --  grew clearly emotional when speaking in favor of the bill. Amy Narvaez, a parent of students in Orange County, told the committee that she became a "recess mom" in October of 2014, when her youngest daughter  started kindergarten.

Lawmakers Back Requiring School Recess

Jan 27, 2016
Robin Sussingham

A House education panel Tuesday moved forward with a proposal that would require school districts to provide 100 minutes of recess each week in elementary schools.

Robin Sussingham

Physics is the most  fundamental of sciences; it's an essential stepping stone for  careers in engineering or science. But around the country, fewer than 40 percent of high school students take a physics class. In Florida , that number is much lower -- only about a quarter of high school students take physics. Experts say that the trend affects the future earning potential of the state's students.

AP Photo

Thousands of parents and children rallied Tuesday against a lawsuit that could end the state’s largest private school voucher program. Protestors gathered in Tallahassee to support the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship.

Teachers Call Foul On State Education Policy

Jan 15, 2016

With lawmakers in town for Session, many groups pick up the mic to air their grievances. The cries of teachers filled the Capitol Courtyard Thursday.

The State Board of Education has approved a scoring rubric for its new standardized exam. But  some are disappointed the bar isn’t being set higher.

Florida House of Representatives

Right now, Florida’s top educator is two steps removed from voters. The state education commissioner is appointed by a board and that board is appointed by the governor.

But lawmakers are considering legislation that would change the Florida Commissioner of Education into a statewide, elected position and add the post to the Florida Cabinet.

The idea has been proposed before, but this time, it’s gaining traction according to State Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach. She said parents, local school boards and other lawmakers are interested.

State Sen. John Legg heads the education committee in the Florida Senate. StateImpact Florida's Robin Sussingham sat down with Legg recently, and asked him to sum up the most important education issues that will be in front of the legislature this year.

Legg: The biggest education issues I see are class size; [also], the House has made a priority of looking at Best and Brightest which is a recruitment and merit reward for teachers around  $10,000...

Sussingham: That's pretty controversial. If you took the SAT 30 years ago, you're going to get $10,000 if you did well?

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There is a renewed call to make Florida’s Education Secretary an elected position – again.

The state’s top educator used to be elected statewide and served as a member of the Florida Cabinet. The cabinet also served as the Florida Board of Education.

flsenate.gov

It's been just days since President Obama signed into law the new Every Child Succeeds Act, doing away with No Child Left Behind. State lawmakers likely will not be dealing with the law's effects during the next session, but anticipate big changes in 2017.

Associated Press

Less than a mile from the state Capitol, a former steakhouse shows little evidence that it was once part of a movement to change Florida’s schools.

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