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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.

The prospect of Hurricane Dorian dumping inches of rain across the region has prompted several public school districts to add an extra day off this Labor Day weekend.

Florida’s largest teachers union is calling for a 10-year, $22 billion  investment into the state’s public schools. The Florida Education Association is calling its plan the "Decade of Progress."

Standing at the speaker's lectern Tuesday night, Hillsborough County Athletic Director Lanness Robinson lauded the new partnership with three health care agencies that will put certified trainers in all 27 high schools.
Screenshot from Hillsborough County School Board

All 27 Hillsborough County high schools will soon have an athletic trainer on campus.

The school board's decision on Tuesday to spend $270,000 for the program comes two months after an incoming freshman football player at Middleton High in Tampa died after taking part in conditioning drills.

Florida schools are reopening for a new academic year. With the new year, comes new changes, including a new rule that Florida public schools are now required to provide mental and emotional health education to middle and high school students.

Schools will give information about coping skills, ways to sustain good mental health, suicide prevention and the impacts of substance abuse. It comes as attending school is potentially becoming more stressful.

Manatee Literacy Council Executive Director Lillian Santiago Bauza and adult English language learner, Cecilia Cortez, a native of Colombia.
Cathy Carter

Public schools are known for helping children who don’t speak English as a native language. But there isn't as much focus on "English Language Learner" education for adults with a similar language barrier.

Everyday situations like filling out a job application, reading street signs or going to the doctor can be daunting for someone born in a non-English speaking country.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld speaks at a podium
Kerry Sheridan / WUSF

Americans owe $1.5 trillion dollars in student debt. Some Democratic presidential candidates argue that free tuition is the answer. 

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri
SAM TURKEN / WLRN

South Florida is heading back to school. Palm Beach County students started classes on Monday. Broward and Monroe Counties start Wednesday, and students in Miami-Dade go back Aug. 19.

Safety and security are still on the minds of teachers, parents, students and state officials at this start to the second school year since the Parkland shooting. Several school districts in the state — most of which are in South Florida — were found over the summer to still not be in compliance with state safety laws.

Psychologist Eddy Regnier
Kerry Sheridan / WUSF Public Media

Schools across the state are back in session, many with increased security measures and monthly active shooter drills, in an effort to ramp up security in the wake of last year’s deadly massacre at Marjory Stoneman Dougas High School in Parkland. 

Florida Officials Eye Safety, Mental Health Ahead Of School Year

Aug 9, 2019

With the start of a new school year just around the corner, Florida officials are eyeing policy changes that would expand the number of mental health professionals in schools and ensure that charter schools are meeting safety requirements. 

MacDill Air Force Base Commander Col. Stephen Snelson addressed teachers who work at Tinker K-8 on base during an orientation program about military culture.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Monday is the first day of school in Hillsborough County and teachers are preparing for the new year. For teachers at Tinker K-8 on MacDill Air Force Base, that includes learning about military culture at an orientation program the base hosted Thursday.

BestFit Foundation clothing rack.
Arpan Bagui

Between participating in sports, traveling with clubs, and attending prom, high school can be expensive.

Those costs are what prompted six King High School students in Tampa to start the BestFit Foundation.

Children do math during the summer at Alta Vista Elementary in Sarasota
Kerry Sheridan / WUSF

In mid-July, eight third-graders sit cross-legged on the floor as they work intently on a math problem, using small eraser boards in their laps. Many are wearing their school uniforms, even though it's summer break. 

When Tinak Bhansali arrived for freshman orientation last month at the SRM Institute of Science and Technology, one of India's elite engineering schools, he was nervous and excited. It was his first time away from his hometown, New Delhi. This was his dream school — a bucolic 250-acre campus in southern India, with palm trees, sprawling stucco buildings and cricket fields.

Dr. Graham with Shana-Marie Ziegler
Shana-Marie Ziegler

When most people hear the name “Dr. Dre” they probably think of the famous rapper.

But some King High School students associate the name with a different musician – their band director, Dr. Dakeyan Chá Dré Graham. 

Graham, whose students refer to him fondly as "Dr. Dre," recently won Florida’s Teacher of the Year award.

King High School music teacher Dr. Dakeyan Graham was chosen among five finalists and named Florida Teacher of the Year during a banquet in Orlando.
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Last week, King High School music teacher Dr. Dakeyan Chá Dré Graham was chosen among five finalists and named Florida’s Teacher of the Year during a banquet in Orlando.

Armed Guardians work at the Manatee School for the Arts.
Manatee School for the Arts

Some Florida school districts and law enforcement agencies have not fully complied with security measures enacted after a 2018 high school massacre because they are bickering over who is responsible, an interim report by a statewide grand jury says.

Most days, 25-year-old Chavonne can push her student loan debt to the back of her mind.

Between short-term office jobs in the Washington, D.C., area, she drives for Uber. But once in awhile, a debt collector will get hold of her cellphone number — the one she keeps changing to avoid them — and it all comes back fresh. "I'll be like, 'Oh no!' " she says. "It's a sad reminder that I owe somebody money!"

In April, she got another reminder when the government seized her tax refund.

All this for a degree she never finished.

The Title I school serves an economically disadvantaged student population and was in its first year of a turnaround process, the state's system of school improvement.
Cathy Carter WUSF

When the state released school grades recently, 20 in Manatee County received an A, and for one school in Palmetto, that score signified a jump of three full grades.

A group of parents and teachers rallied at U.S. 98 exit
Kathleen Oropeza

On Wednesday, a group of concerned parents and teachers rallied for public school funding allocation prior to a Florida Board Education Meeting in Polk County.

Education officials proposed the change to the statewide school curriculum in June, following discussions with First Lady Casey DeSantis (center), who has made the mental health issue one of her top priorities.
Office of the Governor

News Service of Florida

Public schools will be required to teach students at least five hours of mental health instruction beginning in 6th grade, under a mandate approved by the state Board of Education Wednesday and hailed by Florida's top educator as a “life saver.”

Education officials proposed the change to the statewide school curriculum in June, following discussions with First Lady Casey DeSantis, who has made the mental health issue one of her top priorities.

The Florida Department of Education is being sued over allegations it shortchanged teachers when it paid bonuses awarded by the Legislature, costing the state's best educators hundreds of dollars each.
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Associated Press

The Florida Department of Education is being sued over allegations it shortchanged teachers when it paid bonuses awarded by the Legislature, costing the state's best educators hundreds of dollars each.

Americans owe about $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. That's about twice the current budget for the Defense Department and around 22 times the budget for the Education Department.

Students at Ridgecrest Elementary School in Largo show off their drone flying skills to Governor DeSantis.
Carrie Pinakard / WUSF Public Media

By Carl Lisciandrello

The number of schools receiving an A grade increased by 63%, while the number of those receiving a grade of F dropped to just 15, according to number released by the Florida Department of Education on Thursday.

Lots of people have student loans: more than 45 million people. They collectively owe about $1.6 trillion.

That is, of course, a lot of debt — but amid all the national debate right now about what to do about it, it's important to remember that not all debt is created equal, and some borrowers are struggling more than others.

One small way the dairy industry is fighting to slow the decline in U.S. milk consumption is serving lattes in high schools.
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Associated Press

Coffee bars selling $3 iced lattes are popping up in high schools, helped along by dairy groups scrambling for new ways to get people to drink milk.

It’s one small way the dairy industry is fighting to slow the persistent decline in U.S. milk consumption as eating habits change and rival drinks keep popping up on supermarket shelves.

Pencil laying over an exam sheet.
Wikimedia Commons / WUSF Public Media

By Carrie Pinkard

The Florida Department of Education have released standardized test results for the tests taken this past spring.

The scores include the Florida Standards Assessments in English Language Arts and Math.

Pinellas County Sheriff  Bob Gualtieri
Julio Ochoa / WUSF Public Media

News Service of Florida

HAVANA -- Three minutes and 51 seconds.

That’s how long it took Nikolas Cruz to kill 17 students and staff members and injure another 17 during last year’s shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Sign for Daughtrey Elementary School in Bradenton
Cathy Carter

Manatee County Schools will soon offer its first ever dual language program.

This coming school year, Daughtrey Elementary, a Title I school in Bradenton, will teach a group of kindergartners in both English and Spanish. 

children entering school building
School District of Manatee County

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a budget-related bill that could lead to changes in a long-controversial formula for divvying up money among school districts.

David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez speak at USF College of Public Health.
Carrie Pinkard / WUSF Public Media

Sixteen months ago, a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and opened fire.

He killed 17 people and injured 17 others.

David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez were among the students who survived the shooting. They’ve since turned the tragedy into an opportunity to advocate for gun violence awareness around the United States.

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