7:33 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

State Asks Judge to Throw Out Tax Credit Scholarship Lawsuit

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Lawyers for the state and parents whose children use Florida's de facto school-voucher program argued Monday that groups including the state's largest teachers union don't have the right to challenge the program in court.

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9:04 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Study: Performance Funding Doesn't Improve Outcomes In Higher Ed

President Obama wants to make two years of public community college free for many students. But institutions like Miami Dade College, pictured here, could only participate if they also have a performance funding program.

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 6:50 am

Performance funding in public higher education is a way for states to hold institutions accountable for certain outcomes. But new research shows it doesn’t do much to keep students enrolled or boost graduation rates.

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7:21 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

Advocates Say State Should Spend More on Children in Surplus Year

Children's advocates say they're "cautiously optimistic" about Gov. Rick Scott's budget recommendations for the coming spending year, which contain relatively few cuts to programs that serve Florida's children.

But they're also wondering why --- with a surplus of more than $1 billion --- Scott hasn't suggested a greater investment in children, one that they say would be more commensurate with his request for $673 million in tax cuts and record spending on K-12 education and Everglades restoration.

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10:36 am
Tue February 3, 2015

Bill Would Limit Testing Time in Fl Schools


The chairman of a Senate committee that oversees public education filed legislation Monday aimed at cutting back on testing time in Florida schools, opening a debate about how to limit the scope and importance of state assessments.

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5:00 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Why Paperwork Is Worth Millions To Florida College Students

Miami Beach Senior High college adviser Maria Sahwell helps Anahi Hurtado, left, and her mother fill out the FAFSA.

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 10:46 am

It’s a midweek school night at Miami Beach Senior High School.

Students, their parents and siblings -- roughly 80 people in all -- are waiting in the school’s library to get on a computer and answer a lot of questions.

Miami Beach Senior High college adviser Maria Sahwell and experienced counselors will walk families through filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

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6:15 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Opting Out Of State Tests Isn't An Option, Education Commissioner Tells Lawmakers

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart told lawmakers that nothing in state law allows students to refuse state-required exams.

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 2:34 pm

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says students cannot skip state-required tests, and teachers and schools can be punished for refusing to administer required exams.

Stewart’s letter is a response to questions from senators as they prepare for the upcoming legislative session. Senators wanted to know if students could opt out of state-required exams and how doing so might affect their progress in school.

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11:57 am
Mon January 26, 2015

New Book Looks At The History And Future Of Testing In U.S. Schools

Anya Kamenetz is an education reporter for NPR and author of a new book on testing in U.S. schools.

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 6:57 am

Lots of people think there’s too much testing going on in schools right now. It’s one of the most contentious issues in education.

Lawmakers want to scale back the amount of time Florida students spend taking tests.

But at the same time, Florida is rolling out a new test tied to new math and language arts standards -- known as Common Core.

NPR education reporter Anya Kamenetz researched the history and use of standardized exams for her book, “The Test.”

Read an edited version of our interview with Kamenetz below.

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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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