LISTEN LIVE

education

Mort Elementary School is one of Tampa’s lowest-performing elementary schools situated in one the most troubled neighborhoods in Hillsborough County.

In 25 years though, officials are hoping it will be a model of success.

Recess every single day of the week: That's the rallying cry of four mothers lobbying Miami-Dade schools after a bill to require daily recess failed to make it out of the Legislature this year. The Miami Herald's Christina Veiga and WLRN's Rowan Moore Gerety talked with Debora Hertfelder, Louisa Conway, Kate Asturias and Victoria Kenny about why they think free time at school is so important.

Read Christina Veiga's story in the Miami Herald here.

Cathy Carter/WUSF

 Elissia LaPorte is standing in front of a large full length mirror underneath a hand-painted sign that says "Hello Gorgeous."

The senior who attends Tampa's Leto High School is shopping for a prom dress at the Belle of the Ball boutique in Clearwater, which has close to 4,000 gowns on display.

LaPorte has already tried on several and after she picks her favorite, she won't have to pay for it.  

Scott Signs Education Plan That Expands Choice

Apr 15, 2016
Pixabay.com

A wide-ranging education bill dealing with everything from funding for high-performing universities to school membership in athletic associations was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Rick Scott.

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.

State lawmakers want to make Florida the most veteran friendly in the nation. This session, lawmakers are sticking with that pledge, with a push to improve veteran employment and education.

In Tallahassee, Bills Are Dying

Feb 22, 2016

Members, bills are dying.

Those four words --- or something like them --- have long been used by legislative committee chairmen and presiding officers to try to get lawmakers to focus on the task at hand or to move quickly through contentious agendas. The line also happens to fit what starts happening as the session enters its second half.

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.

The 2016 Florida Legislative session starts Jan. 12, and this week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 10 at 7:30 a.m.), we are previewing some of the bills lawmakers are proposing.

Sen. Debbie Mayfield
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.

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.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

It’s game day in the 8th grade International Baccalaureate design class at Ada Merritt K-8 Center in Little Havana in Miami.

The games the students are playing are designed by their classmates. And they’re based on books the students read for class.

Four eighth graders prepare to set off on a board game based on the book “Everlost” – set in a fantasy world between life and death inhabited by “afterlights.”

Theo Urquiza reads the rules and introduces the characters.

Our Ideas series is exploring innovation in education.

It's 20-year-old Randall Lofton's third shot at college. He's already wiped out twice. Too much partying and basketball, he says, and not enough studying. "I didn't apply myself."

Lofton is now trying to balance a full-time job with three classes at community college. He's taking a mix of online and in-class work at Valencia College in Orlando, Fla.

New Florida Teacher Bonus Program Draws Complaints

Oct 12, 2015
John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

In Brigette Kinney’s design class at Ada Merritt K-8 center in Miami, one of the key concepts is editing and revising ideas after getting feedback.

Her 8th graders create role-playing games based on books they read. And then adjust the games, after watching their classmates play.

Kinney hopes Florida lawmakers will be as open to change as her students.

“I feel that legislators are out of touch with what it means to be a good teacher,” she said.

stanfordtech / Flickr

Last week the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development released the results of a global study looking at the effect of technology on 15-year-olds test scores.

The group oversees one of the most important international exams, so their research matters.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

For weeks now, Palm Beach County schools have struggled to get students to classes on time.

Bus routes have been redrawn. And the district sent up flares, looking to hire anyone who wants to drive a bus.

Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio says the U.S. doesn't need a federal Education Department, arguing that its recommendations to state and local governments often turn into mandates tied to money.

The Florida senator made the comments Tuesday during a town hall meeting in Carson City. About 200 people attended the gathering in a community center, part of a tour of northern Nevada.

Wikipedia Commons

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is joining those who are calling for federal review of Pinellas County’s use of Title I funds for education.  

Pinellas Teachers Make Back-To-School House Calls

Aug 24, 2015
M.S. Butler

At the beginning of each school year, making new students feel welcome and building a rapport with them is a big part of getting off to a smooth start. And at one Pinellas County middle school, teachers and staff aren't waiting for the students to come to them.

It's no secret that not every student is excited about going back to school at the end of summer.

On the first day of school some will be waiting at the bus stop with a backpack of new notebooks and a stomach full of butterflies.

Albuminarium

 

 

A day after the Pinellas County Schools Superintendent announced changes to five failing St. Petersburg elementary schools, the U.S. Department of Education has been asked to review county programs serving poor children. 

Graphic courtesy of Tampa Bay Times

The Tampa Bay Times just completed an investigation into a group of low-performing elementary schools in black neighborhoods of southern Pinellas County -- schools that they're calling "Failure Factories." WUSF's Robin Sussingham spoke with reporters Michael LaForgia and Cara Fitzpatrick... and asked what they discovered about those schools that made them want to dig deeper:

Photo courtesy Tampa Bay 2-1-1

Students who are considered homeless by Florida schools can be living in hotels, trailer parks, in campgrounds or doubled up with friends or relatives. And with as many as 71,000 or more homeless students in the state the challenges can extend beyond the kids and families to include the schools.

For most kids school is a place of achievement and learning, or just a place to socialize with friends. But for kids without stable living arrangements it can mean much more than that.

M.S. Butler

When it comes to children, the definition of homeless includes more children than you may think.

Under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act children and youth who "lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence are considered homeless." That means children who are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds -- or doubled-up with relatives or friends  --are homeless, as well as those who stay in shelters, on the street or in abandoned buildings.

M.S Butler

During a time when many Florida counties were cutting back on summer school due to a lack of money, Pinellas County started expanding theirs using a combination of federal and state funds. And attendance over the past three summers has more than doubled.

Across Florida, more than 288,000 students were enrolled in summer classes in 2014. Nearly 15,000 of them are now enrolled in Pinellas County schools. One of those is Campbell Park Elementary, where the Summer Bridge Program is now under way.

M.S. Butler

Not every high school student wants to or even needs to go to college, but graduating students without a college degree may have a hard time gaining entry or experience at companies hiring for high paying, high skilled jobs. A local program is trying to bring that experience to graduating students.

M.S. Butler

The first time some students learn about finances is during a high school economics class. Others learn by trial and error, but one program in the Tampa Bay area already has a  history of helping  students get an early start on making sense of their finances.

Here in central Pinellas County, just like any community in America, it’s early morning and everyone is beginning to show up for work.

Buses are unloading and students are heading  to  businesses like Verizon, Duke Energy and CVS Pharmacy which are getting ready to open.

M.S Butler

Of the more than 600 charter schools in Florida. Some focus on the arts, some on sciences. Others are high schools that help students who are at risk for not finishing or dropping out completely.

At the crossroads of  busy four lane highway in Clearwater, students have to make their way through the noise and exhaust of heavy traffic to get to their high school classes.

M.S Butler

It's that time of year when thousands of students across the country get ready to graduate from public and private schools. But in St. Petersburg there's a unique group taking a walk across the stage after finishing four years at a local college.

It’s graduation week and there’s a buzz of anticipation in the air at Eckerd College. The ceremony is just about to begin and members of this class are too excited to sit or speak.

But this is not your normal graduating class

It Takes A 'Forest' To Feed An Elementary School

May 4, 2015
John O'Connor / WLRN

Rain is terrible when you’re trying to give tours of your new garden.

But it’s great for the spinach, sweet potato and purple passion fruit rapidly taking root.

On a very rainy day, Kelsey Pharr Elementary third graders Ronnield Luna and Jeffrey Arroyo are showing grownups around what used to be a grass field.

Now the school in Miami’s Brownsville neighborhood has several thousand square feet of all kinds of fruit and vegetables.

Some you can find at your supermarket.

Aimee Blodgett / USF Communications and Marketing

When thousands of University of South Florida students walk across the stage to receive their diplomas this week, they will be helping to reduce environmental waste.

USF Student Government voted this year to use caps and gowns made from 100 percent recycled materials. Each set is made from about 23 plastic bottles.

With more than 6,300 students in the USF System graduating this week, that translates into the recycling of 150-thousand bottles.

Pages