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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.

Legislative leaders are touting this year’s $101 increase in K-12 per student funding as “unprecedented.” But education officials say that billing is misleading.

The Legislature’s new plan to arm school employees as a last line of defense to an active shooter might never get tested in Florida’s biggest school districts.

Officials in 10 of the state’s largest systems, which educate nearly 60 percent of all Florida school children, said they have no intention of giving teachers or other staff guns to carry into classrooms.

Hillsborough County Public Schools

Many school boards across Tampa Bay are voicing their opposition to a bill in the Florida legislature that would arm school personnel.

Crystal River Middle School

Dayanna Volitich is a Citrus County teacher who has been removed from the classroom in response to the discovery that she hosts a white nationalist podcast.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

Since the Parkland school shooting, sixteen-year-old Alex Barrow says Hillsborough High School has an environment of fear.

School District of Manatee County

State lawmakers have approved funding for more school resource officers for the 2018-19 school year.  

But some Tampa Bay area school districts aren't waiting to beef up security.

Wikimedia Commons

Residents of Manatee and Sarasota counties will vote on whether or not to support their respective school through property taxes in a special election on March 20.

When Sarah Lerner walked into her classroom on Friday, she felt like time had stood still.

Abandoned quizzes sat on her students’ desks. Their backpacks were scattered around the room and cell phones plugged into electrical outlets. The date was still on the board: Feb. 14.

It was the first time she’d been to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since that day, when she sheltered 15 students from a shooter who opened fire in the hallways. Seventeen people died, and more than a dozen others were injured.

Wikimedia Commons

Florida has received another reprieve in submitting its education plan to the federal government.

Metal detectors at schools, better coordination between agencies and keeping guns out of the hands of people who are mentally ill were among the solutions three groups of experts handed Tuesday to Gov. Rick Scott, as state leaders search for ways to prevent tragedies like last week’s mass shooting that killed 17 people at a Broward County high school.

Hundreds of students from around the state rallied at the Florida Capitol Wednesday. They joined Parkland students to promote their gun control cause and convince lawmakers to look into what they see as better policies.

Leona Rosado / Land O' Lakes student

While thousands of students were in Tallahassee Wednesday to push for stronger gun laws after last week’s shooting in a high school in Parkland, teenagers across Florida walked out of class in a show of solidarity.

A key Florida Senate committee has stripped language from an omnibus education bill that threatened the survival of the state’s teachers unions. Critics of the plan say it’s unfair that only teachers were targeted.

Miami-Dade County’s school system wants an extra $30 million this year from Florida to better prepare classrooms for a mass-shooting era — with bulletproof glass, advanced monitoring of social media and social workers trying to spot troubled students before they erupt in violence.

The requested state money would let Miami-Dade hire more police and mental-health workers, beef up school security with automatically locking doors and upgraded public announcement systems, and purchase software and hire staff to mine social media for potential threats.

Hundreds of students from West Boca Raton High School walked out of class Tuesday morning and headed toward Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to show solidarity with the students who lived through last week’s horror-filled shooting rampage.

Sarasota County Schools

Officials with Sarasota County Schools are reaching out to the community for their thoughts and suggestions on how to improve the school's security in preparation for a meeting with Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday.

Barely 24 hours into the campaign, the district had already received nearly 400 responses.

Ponce de Leon Elementary School / Facebook

The Florida Parent Teacher Association will be holding a statewide candlelight vigil for the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting.

Two main views tend to emerge when it comes to the topic of school vouchers.

Advocates say they give disadvantaged kids access to better schools. But opponents say vouchers drain money and resources from traditional public schools.  

  

As South Florida reels from Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Broward County high school, State Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, is working to secure funding for Florida school districts to better identify and address mental health concerns in students early on. 

Despite high graduation rates and increases in awarded degrees, a bill in the Senate looks to give Florida’s Community College System a governing facelift. This has led many community college leaders to warn of the unnecessary and unintended consequences that may result from such a bill. 

Pixabay.com

"When it comes to school violence, it's not a matter of if, but when."

That was the first line of an opinion column published in the Tallahassee Democrat two weeks before Wednesday's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The writer was Bill Lee, president of the Florida Association of School Administrators.

His group wants more money for "Safe Schools," a state Department of Education program that handles student safety through a number of initiatives, particularly funding public school resource officers.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF Public Media

School districts across Florida are reviewing their security plans and addressing safety concerns after a mass shooting at a Broward County high school earlier this week that killed 17 people. 

Florida’s student body has never been more diverse. But the state’s schools are also becoming more segregated. A recent study by the LeRoy Collins Foundation shows a marked increase in intensely segregated schools, spurred by demographic changes and the rise of private and charter academies. To understand why these changes are happening, WFSU looked back at Florida’s attempts at integration.

South Florida made the cut for Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2). It’s one of 20 finalist cities that submitted proposals based on several metrics, including physical site space, transportation options and access to an educated work force.

 

Teachers' Unions Threatened By Florida House Bill

Feb 12, 2018

House Bill 7055 has been a lightning rod for controversy. The measure is known for a move to offer bullied students scholarships for private or charter schools. But, tucked away in the bill’s 200 pages, one provision threatens teachers’ unions with decertification.

From third to fifth grade, Alyson Hochstedler says bullies slammed her son into lockers and punched him. One threatened to stab him. The public school's administration did little to stop his tormentors, she says, so the mother of five transferred her son to a private school, using a state grant for low- and middle-income families to pay his tuition.

While Florida lawmakers approved funding for the so-called Hope Scholarship program as part of the House budget proposal, bills creating the program are still making their way through the committee process.

Last May, two Miami-Dade public school employees resigned amid investigations into allegations that they had engaged in inappropriate relationships with female students.

Alex Osuna, then 34, a marine science teacher and girl’s lacrosse team coach at Miami Palmetto Senior High, and Darryl Ward, then 49, a security guard at Coral Reef Senior High and a part-time coach for the school’s football and track and field teams, quit their jobs within a day of each other.

A court hearing was held Tuesday morning for nine Florida State University students facing criminal hazing charges. FSU President John Thrasher is optimistic new Greek life regulations will bring about a cultural change.

Florida Department of Health

While the flu is causing problems around the country, the number of students and teachers infected in Pinellas County has increased this year.   

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