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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.

On the same spring day Chinese President Xi Jinping dined with President Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate, six miles to the south a dozen fifth graders were also sitting down to dine.

Not for lunch. For art class.

At South Grade Elementary in Lake Worth, art teacher Rebecca Hinson is introducing her students to the next art form they’ll be studying: the art of table manners.

“We know that dogs eat, cows eat, pigs eat … but people dine,” said Hinson.

With computers returned to the discount list, Florida retailers are readying for back-to-school shoppers this weekend during the state's sales-tax “holiday.”

The holiday, which will run Friday through Sunday, is a large part of a tax-cut package (HB 7109) that lawmakers passed this spring. The package is projected to provide $91.6 million in tax breaks during the budget year that started July 1.

For many young girls its hard navigating middle and high school. There’s cafeteria politics coupled with changing relationships among friends and family. It’s also a time for body changes, and  one group of young women say with all they have going on, the last thing they want to deal with is a dress code.

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Florida's school districts are figuring out how to respond to a new state law that covers quite a lot, and may have a major impact.

On Tuesday, in what the Sarasota Herald-Tribune calls a "sharply-divided unanimous vote," Sarasota County's School Board voted not join a possible lawsuit.

One part of Florida’s complex public school funding program is drawing fire from two Republican state senators.  They’re calling for a study of what’s known as the district cost differential.

Judge Sides With State On Charter School Standards

Jul 24, 2017
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Rejecting arguments of charter schools, an administrative law judge Friday upheld a plan that would make charter schools ineligible for state construction and facilities money if they have “D” performance grades in two consecutive years.

Education advocates ran into a buzz saw of tough questions Tuesday in their fight to revive an adequacy lawsuit based on a 1998 constitutional amendment.   Appellants cited test scores, but a three-judge panel with the First District Court of Appeal appeared skeptical.

Citizens for Strong Schools attorney Jodi Siegel argued Florida’s public schools can’t possibly be meeting the “high-quality” and “uniform” standard voters demanded when testing shows thousands of poor and minority students are lagging behind.

Cathy Carter / WUSF Public Media

At the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores, a dozen or so kindergartners gather for a pop quiz, next to a coop holding an injured bird.

Next to home mortgages, student loans are America’s second highest amount of debt. Florida U.S Senator Bill Nelson wants to reduce that figure. Jocelyn Beever reports.

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Two recent college graduates have decided to sue the state for skipping out on school payments.

In the middle of the school year, Hayden Dallip was at home in Miami Gardens when he got a call from his seventh-grade daughter. “She was crying—she said, 'Daddy, hurry up and come to the school.' " The phone call home came after a fight with another student. “I said, 'what’s going on, what’s going on?' She said, ‘Please come to the school because they suspended me,” Dallip recounted.

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The Florida Department of Education has released school grades for the 2016-17 school year.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed a law guaranteeing religious expression in schools.

The House version of the bill was sponsored by Rep. Kim Daniels, D-Jacksonville, who's also a pastor. When she presented it to the House in April, she said it clarifies what’s already legal.


Scott Signs Health Care, Renewable Energy Bills

Jun 19, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott late Friday signed 13 bills, including a 59-page health care bill that is linked to the new state budget.

A group of students at Miami Norland Senior High in Miami Gardens spent part of their freshman year writing about their lives in poems and short stories.

The loss of a parent, struggling with low self-esteem, racism and homelessness are among the central themes in the narratives they penned about themselves.

Now sophomores, some of their works are collected in a new self-published book, “iRead, iThink, iWrite.”

Cathy Carter

There's little doubt that America is becoming more diverse.

Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in the nation's public schools. But differences can extend beyond race and ethnicity, as students in Sarasota County are learning.

Judge Rules Against Tampa School On Football Game Prayer

Jun 9, 2017
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A federal judge has sided with the Florida High School Athletic Association in a dispute about whether a Christian school should have been allowed to offer a prayer over a stadium loudspeaker before a football championship game.

Gregory Adkins, superintendent of The School District of Lee County, held a press conference backed by about 50 district employees.

"We demand Governor Rick Scott veto House Bill 7069," he said, standing at a lectern. 

Adkins was referring to contentious legislation that concerns K-12 education in the state. Last month, the district sent a letter to the governor, asking that HB 7069 be vetoed. 

With time running out in this week’s special session, state lawmakers have lined up a showdown over education funding.  Both chambers are planning final votes Friday. 

The Florida Senate is setting the stage to override Governor Rick Scott’s veto of public school funding.  But House lawmakers say the Senate is on its own.

School officials and teachers unions across the state have expressed outrage over a comprehensive education bill passed by the Florida legislature, and are calling for a veto from Gov. Rick Scott. Their objections stem -- in part -- from a requirement that public schools share local taxpayer revenue with charter schools for capital projects.

Governor Rick Scott says he will veto the legislature’s education funding proposal, sending lawmakers back to the drawing board in a special session next week. Scott says he and legislative leaders have agreed to spend another $200 million for education, and put more money into the state’s tourism and job recruitment agencies.

State College Cuts Spur Calls For Budget Veto

May 28, 2017

Upset over a $30 million cut in remedial education funding, state-college advocates are asking Gov. Rick Scott to veto a $1.2 billion portion of the state budget, forcing lawmakers to revamp the spending plan for the 28 colleges.

USF Looks To Add Faculty, Boost Standing

May 25, 2017

With the goal of becoming one of the top public-research institutions in the country, the University of South Florida is being guided by a plan to hire 300 new faculty members over the next five years.

The plan would reduce the student-to-faculty ratio on the Tampa campus from the current 22 students per instructor to a 19-to-1 ratio. The move could help the school increase research funding, attract more top-quality faculty and help students graduate more quickly with degrees in high-demand professions.

Debby Dawson, who lives in southwest Florida, has a simple message to Gov. Rick Scott: The state's existing scholarship program for disabled children is "life changing" and has helped her 7-year-old autistic son "develop by leaps and bounds."

Florida’s public education board had its say on a controversial ed bill and the state budget Tuesday.  Public school officials and a state lawmaker presented opposing views on how education policy played out during the legislative session.

When it comes to feeding kids a healthy diet, "it's not politics, it's parenting," Michelle Obama said Friday.

And then she got a little fired up.

Without ever naming President Trump, the former first lady took aim at changes the administration announced last week that weaken some of the school nutrition standards she championed.

No one likes to take tests. Sitting down to take a standardized test on a beautiful Saturday morning would not, almost certainly, be categorized as a fun weekend activity. Yet, it's a requirement many of us face at one point in life. So we sharpen our No. 2 pencils and get to work.

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Recess has returned, but not for charter schools, and state testing will be limited to two weeks. Those are just two of the proposals lawmakers crammed into an education bill that capped off the end of the legislative session.

Charter School Lobbyist: Education Bill Could End Up In Court

May 11, 2017

There are growing demands for Governor Rick Scott to veto both the state budget, and a controversial education companion measure that critics say goes too far.  House Bill 7069 covers everything from charter schools to testing to sunscreen.

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