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.

USF Chooses New Dean for College of Business

Mar 20, 2012
Photo Courtesy Walton College, University of Arkansas

After an eight month world-wide search, the USF College of Business has found its new dean: Dr. Moez Limayen.

He comes from the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, which U.S. World and News Reports ranked as the 25th best among public universities.

Dr. Limayen said the college’s vision will be “distinctive and very exciting.” It includes the following strategic priorities:

USF Provides Alternative Spring Break for Students

Mar 12, 2012

Students who are interested in alternative spring break have to apply and indicate one social issue they want to serve - like poverty, education, or public health.

Students are then matched to a location with that social issue. Some stay in Tampa -- others are going as far away as Virginia and even Nicaragua.

Angel Garcia, coordinator of Bulls Service Breaks, says the idea is to create more informed and engaged citizens.

Mount Holyoke College

Donal B. O'Shea has been chosen to be the next president of New College of Florida in Sarasota.  The school's Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of the appointment on Saturday.

Dr. O'Shea comes to Sarasota from South Hadley, Massachusetts, where he is the dean of faculty and vice president for Academic Affairs at Mount Holyoke College.  

Reading teacher Audra Cervi says kids pay attention to their reading lesson when the letter ‘J’ turns into a jumping, blue 3-D jaguar.

Cervi places a flash card with the letter J under a special camera. Across the room a jaguar springs to life on an electronic screen.

A small group of kindergartners at Audubon Park Elementary School near Orlando squeal at the sight. Some reach out to grab the critter.

Pinellas County schools

Bonnie Harvin says her 11-year-old daughter is doing well at Life Force Arts and Technology Academy in Clearwater.

“She’s a straight A student,” says Harvin. “Her FCAT scores are above grade level. So yes, I do think she has improves. A lot”

But Pinellas County school board members say the evidence to close Life Force is “overwhelming.” The charter school is in bankruptcy, it changed its curriculum without permission and it’s failing to serve students with disabilities.

Just three weeks ago, the University of South Florida was confronted with a $128 million cut in funding at its Tampa campus. That proposed 60 percent budget reduction is now down to 21 percent for USF/Tampa which President Judy Genshaft said is fair and in line with universities of similar size.

The question for the universities is how to make up for the budget shortfall. One solution lawmakers took off the table - they did not approve tuition increases to make up for the funding reduction.

USF Poly Puts Staff, Student Recruitment On Hold

Mar 2, 2012
Phil Coale / Associated Press

The University of South Florida Polytechnic is not recruiting faculty or students while lawmakers debate the school's future, its interim regional chancellor told The Lakeland Ledger.

From the story:

It's not an atmosphere under which a quality academic staff can be drawn in, said Touchton  "We just feel like we need to wait and see what happens."  Advertisements ­previously posted for various open positions have been discontinued.

USF is facing a budget cut of around 20 percent. That could affect everything from summer school to the operation of the new pharmacy college.

Senate budget chief JD Alexander is says USF should dip into its reserve fund to offset the cuts. But USF Board of Trustees Chairman John Ramil says the university can't do that.

It's mandated to set aside a percentage of its budget - and it has to keep cash on hand for an emergency, such as a hurricane.

The Florida Board of Governors has just announced that student enrollment in the state's universities is up three percent from last year.

But there's are three exceptions to that growth -- FAMU, University of Florida, and the biggest drop of all -- the University of South Florida, which lost almost one percent of enrollment.

That means USF is no longer the 3rd largest university in Florida -- it's fourth, behind University of Central Florida (up four percent!), UF, Florida International University, and then USF.

Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers Association

Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers Association president Jean Clements says dual efforts to toughen Florida's school grading system and approve a law allowing a majority of parents to choose how to restructure their child's failing school amount to an education land grab for private business.

Clements' op-ed was published on the Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog.

Clements argues Florida Department of Education is changing its grade standards with the intention of failing more schools. The agency argues raising standards will compel schools to find ways to improve.

Another School Bus Crash in Manatee County

Mar 1, 2012

We've just received word that eight children have been injured, none seriously, in a bus crash in Manatee County this morning.

This comes less than two months after another big school bus accident in Manatee County that injured 23 students.

Which leads to the question - is this just bad luck for Manatee County bus drivers, or is there some sort of training they need?

USF College of Pharmacy Dean: We Need Full $6 Million

Feb 29, 2012

Students and faculty at the USF School of Pharmacy told the media today that $3 million is not enough.

The Florida Senate originally proposed a $6 million cut to the USF College of Pharmacy, but later reinstated half of it.

The dean of USF's College of Pharmacy, Dr. Kevin Sneed, is working to get back the original whole amount.

Clermont Struggles With Homeless Students

Feb 29, 2012
60 Minutes

The Associated Press has a terrific profile out on a homeless student in Lake County, the latest in a series of stories using Florida as the face of the Great Recession.

In the last few weeks, USF President Judy Genshaft found herself in the fight of her career, taking on powerful lawmakers who wanted to slash USF's budget and make USF's branch campus in Lakeland into an independent school.

Florida Matters had a chance to talk with President Genshaft recently while she was in the middle of the budget fight. We've reported on that before.

Courtesy of South Florida Sun Sentinel

The latest Florida Department of Education ranks  Palm Beach County's Hagen Elementary School a "B" school.

But teachers there want to improve performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test or FCAT and they are even willing to resort to a white lie,  says the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Leo Reynolds / Flickr

Florida's Board of Education is meeting tomorrow to debate changing the state's school grading system. The proposal has drawn criticism from educators and parents -- particularly a proposal to include students with disabilities in the formula.

Yes, it was only a game. And with just one miss from freshman point guard Anthony Collins, it could have easily gone the other way.

But it was hard not to see the 46-45 win by USF over Cincinnati this weekend in the larger context of USF's recent budget fights.

A bill to grant immediate independence to a new university in Polk County generated some passionate debate from its sponsor, Senate budget chief JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales.

With his voice cracking with emotion, Alexander again criticized USF President Judy Genshaft for what he called dragging her feet on creating Florida Polytechnic, which would be the state’s 12th university.

USF President Judy Genshaft expressed some relief after hearing that state Senators trimmed USF's share of its budget cut from nearly 60 percent to 23 percent. But she hopes the cuts won't last beyond the next year.

Even at the lower level, she says just about every state university will have to scramble to find enough money to continue their current level of operations.

We’ve been asked by several of our listeners about WUSF’s relationship to USF as the station covers the fight over budget cuts to the university. I’d like to take this opportunity to answer some of them.

Why don’t you put a disclaimer on every story you run on USF?

WUSF is part of the University of South Florida. I believe that is very clear to our audience.

USF is part of our call letters. We often announce that we’re a service of the University of South Florida.

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