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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.

Education experts at the University of Florida are tackling an urgent question: How can schools be made safer without scaring or psychologically hurting students?

Mark Schreiner / WUSF Public Media

Even with a relatively strong economy, the number of high-growth, high-skill, high-paying jobs in Florida isn't where lawmakers like Gov. Ron DeSantis would like it to be.

In part, that's because the state doesn't have enough people qualified for those careers.

"Parkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories" needed to be written, its authors believe, but wish desperately it hadn't.

The book by 43 students and teachers who lived through February's high school massacre gives a poignant, raw, and sometimes graphic look into the six-minute shooting spree where 17 died and its aftermath as a well-off Fort Lauderdale suburb suddenly found itself mourning in a global spotlight that has dimmed but will never reach black.

Hillsborough County Public Schools

There are more than 4,000 public schools in Florida. Democratic State Sen. Janet Cruz of Tampa is co-sponsoring a bill to filter lead out of the water used for drinking and cooking at all of them.

Cruz thinks there's money in the budget to pay for filters to remove lead from water used for drinking or cooking at public schools.

Leon County eighth grade student Charlotte Stuart-Tilley organized a school strike, held last week, to bring attention on the issue of climate change.

School Leaders Face Hurricane, Security Issues

Jan 17, 2019

With the annual legislative session nearing, lawmakers and education leaders likely will have to grapple with the fallout of Hurricane Michael on Northwest Florida school districts and continued questions about how to bolster school safety throughout the state.

Florida is facing a teacher shortage that stakeholders say is a growing problem. State Department of Education data for this school year shows nearly 3,300 teacher vacancies across the state.

The State Board of Education is expected Wednesday to approve a report that details a shortage of certified science, English and math teachers in Florida’s public schools.

The Florida Department of Education says the state is experiencing a critical teacher shortage. Meanwhile, school districts across Florida continue to struggle to fill teacher positions.

A Sarasota lawmaker is proposing to make it easier for retired teachers to get back in the classroom.

Survivors of the Parkland high school shooting won't have to go to class on the first anniversary of the shooting that took 17 lives.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students will have the option to report to campus on Feb. 14 for a half-day of community service activities. If students choose not to come to school, they're being encouraged to plan their own community service projects off campus.

Code Reds, hard corners, and arming teachers are some of the recommendations made by the state commission investigating the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

 

Pinellas County Schools

For nearly two decades, Pinellas County schools have operated magnet programs for students from elementary through high school to teach journalism.  The 14th annual installation of some of their work will soon be on display for the public to see. 

Videos and photos of police officers responding to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 show them saving at least two victims by applying tourniquets to gunshot wounds on their legs.

Now, Julie Osheroff is learning how to do that. And she's not a cop — she's a teacher.

Osheroff recently trained with about 85 of her colleagues in how to be a first responder.

Nick Evans / WFSU News

A sharply divided Florida Supreme Court rejected a nearly decade-old lawsuit Friday that claimed the state isn't living up to its constitutional requirement to provide a "high quality" education for all.

In doing so, the 4-3 decision Friday essentially renders meaningless a 1998 constitutional amendment approved by Florida voters that sought to strengthen guarantees for K-12 education.

School choice is a priority for the education advisory committee Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis has convened to help shape his policy goals.

The panel met for a second time in Tallahassee Friday.

Related: DeSantis Transition Team Discusses Concerns About Teacher Pay, K-12 Funding 

During his campaign for governor, Ron DeSantis credited Republican education reform efforts like charter schools and private school vouchers for improving schools across Florida.

Now he’ll have an education commissioner who appears set to seek to expand those efforts. On Monday, the State Board of Education unanimously approved former Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran to serve in the position. DeSantis recommended Corcoran earlier this month.

In his new role role, Corcoran will be in charge of representing Florida's public education system.

Court Approves Drug Testing For Substitute Teachers

Dec 21, 2018

A federal appeals court Thursday rejected a constitutional challenge to a Palm Beach County School Board policy requiring substitute-teacher applicants to take drug tests.

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis’ transition committees are meeting this week in Tallahassee to help the Republican iron out his policy agenda in advance of his January 8 inauguration.

The weekend death of former Florida legislative leader and longtime educator T-K Wetherell is being mourned throughout the state; especially by those Floridians involved in any with the state's institutions of higher learning.

Wikipedia

Florida’s combative former House speaker is going to become the state’s education commissioner.

The State Board of Education voted unanimously on Monday to select Richard Corcoran of Land O'Lakes for the job.

Days after entering hospice care, Former Florida House Speaker and Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell has died. He was 72.

Wetherell had been battling cancer for 15 years and just last week, his wife announced he had decided to stop treatments and enter hospice.

The Florida Supreme Court has upheld the state’s hazing law and the sentencing of the man convicted in the 2011 Hazing death of Florida A&M University band drum major Robert Champion.

Manatee County School District

Manatee County still doesn't have a permanent school superintendent. 

Just days before the Manatee County School Board was going to offer the position to the interim superintendent Cynthia Saunders, the state education commissioner filed an administrative complaint against her.

A fresh redesign of the ‘Support Education’ specialty license plate was released Tuesday statewide.

It's the first update to the plate since it first launched 25 years ago. It now shows two children basking under palm trees, opening books and stretching out under a beachy sunset.

When a Florida resident purchases or renews this specialty tag, proceeds go directly back to support public schools and classrooms in the county where the tag is registered.

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis has chosen fellow Republican and Former Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran to head the State Department of Education. Florida’s Board of Education will vote on whether or not Corcoran gets the job later this month.

For public school teacher Kaitlyn McCollum, even simple acts like washing dishes or taking a shower can fill her with dread.

"It will just hit me like a ton of bricks," McCollum says. " 'Oh my God, I owe all of that money.' And it's, like, a knee-buckling moment of panic all over again."

She and her family recently moved to a much smaller, older house. One big reason for the downsizing: a $24,000 loan that McCollum has been unfairly saddled with because of a paperwork debacle at the U.S. Department of Education.

More people could still lose their jobs or face other consequences as a result of their actions before, during and after the Feb. 14 shooting at a Parkland high school, according to the sheriff who chairs a state commission investigating what went wrong.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission is preparing to release a report to the governor and Legislature by Jan. 1, and it's likely to include more detail about mistakes made by individuals leading up to the shooting that left 17 people dead, as well as during the slow, chaotic response.

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Some parents are outraged that a Florida high school conducted an unannounced "code red drill," sending students and teachers into a panic.

Wikipedia

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis today announced he'll nominate outgoing Florida House speaker Richard Corcoran as the state's next education commissioner.

The nomination of the Land O'Lakes Republican is no surprise - the possibility has been talked about for weeks, and his fervent backing of expanding charter schools in the state has already drawn the ire of the state’s teachers union and some Democrats.

A new front in the ongoing battle between Everglades restoration and Florida’s sugar industry has opened up. This time, it’s over a planned water reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Environmentalists are suing to block an extension of sugar leases they say could delay construction.


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