Florida schools roundup: Common Core, PARCC, achievement gap & more

Common Core: “I completely agree with former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and bipartisan leaders across the country that the Common Core standards are simply better than what we have been relying on… ” writes Charlie Crist for the Tampa Bay Times. florida-roundup-logoA Florida Insider Poll on the fate of Common Core finds 70 percent predict the new measures will stand, and 30 percent predict Florida will pull out three years after its implementation. The Buzz. The Polk County school district has been using Common Core State Standards in their lessons as well as the current Sunshine State Standards. The Ledger. And so has Sarasota County schools, says Superintendent Lori White. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “They’ve been called everything from leftist indoctrination to another tool meant to debase teachers and public education,” writes the Fort Myers News-Press, which takes a look at the new standards in Lee County.

PARCC: Education Week looks at who has the authority to withdraw from the testing consortium tied with Common Core State Standards, saying Gov. Scott can’t do it alone.

Accountability: Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano writes “The people who scream loudest about accountability in schools need to cool their jets for the next couple of years.”

Guns in schools: The Miami Herald spends three months investigating how much of a threat guns really pose to South Florida schools.

Achievement gap: Pinellas County schools Superintendent  Mike Grego gives more details on a new plan to boost academic performance for black students. Tampa Bay Times.

Sick day: More than 300 Manatee County students from an elementary school came down with stomach-flu-like symptoms, prompting the district sanitize the school and to warn parents to keep sick kids home. Sun Sentinel.

School boards: Board members across the state will receive a more than 3 percent raise this year. That means pay for each board member in Broward and Palm Beach counties will increase to $42,455. Sun Sentinel. Hillsborough County School Board members April Griffin and Susan Valdes use Superintendent MaryEllen Elia’s review to whine, posture and settle old scores, writes the Tampa Bay Times.

Charter schools: Finding suitable facilities is key among the issues that charter schools face. Palm Beach Post.  The Palm Beach County district audit panel recommends creating  an advisory committee for charter school issues. Palm Beach Post.

New post: Palm Beach County’s superintendent decides he needs a top-level aide to help him run the nation’s 11th largest school district.  Palm Beach Post. This is not the time to give the superintendent a chief of staff, editorializes the Palm Beach Post. A Pasco high school gets a new principal, and a new attitude. Tampa Bay Times.

Teacher raises: Collier County School District teachers will get a 7.2 percent retroactive raise. Naples Daily News.

Conduct: A Seminole County teacher will soon be losing his job after pornographic images were found on his work computer. Orlando Sentinel.  Two Clay County school bus drivers are on extended leave without pay for failing to provide documentation supporting their months-long  absences from work. Florida Times-Union. The state is punishing a former Sarasota County middle-school teacher who partied with alcohol and drug paraphernalia with three teenagers in a Siesta Key hotel room. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. A Hillsborough County school bus driver has been taken off her route pending an investigation into a claim that she was texting while driving last week. Tampa Bay Times.

Health clinics: A network of school-based health clinics operate out of nine Miami-Dade public schools. Miami Herald.

School spending: The Clay County School  Board says the nearly $500,000 price tag to equip district school buses with a GPS  system is too much. Florida Times-Union.

Lawsuit: The Clay County school district is being sued for $7,000 by a Massachusetts  speakers bureau over a contract that the  board says doesn’t exist. Florida Times-Union.

Truancy: Manatee County school leaders address truancy concerns. Bradenton Herald.

Texting, driving: Leon County students, teachers and advocates pledge to stop texting and driving. Tallahassee Democrat.

Foreign exchange: As early as this January, up to 60 Chinese middle school students from an elite boarding school in Beijing could be walking the halls of a K-8 school in Hernando County. Tampa Bay Times.

Reading program: Palm Beach County hopes to boost third-grade reading scores with a new fairy tale-themed literacy campaign. Palm Beach Post.

Tutoring program: The Winter Haven Housing Authority in Polk County wins a national award for its tutoring program, which matches high school students with children in kindergarten through seventh grade. The Ledger.

Bullying: A Polk County middle-schooler holds a yard sale to raise money for the family of Rebecca Sedwick, the 12-year-old who committed suicide because she was being bullied. The Ledger.

Salary decreases: Some of Duval County’s principals and assistant principals see their salaries  drop this school year, in one case as much as $24,000. Florida Times-Union.

Edsby: Hillsborough County parents now have access to Edsby, a cloud-based online gradebook that is designed to serve as a communication tool. The Tampa Tribune.

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BY Sherri Ackerman

Sherri Ackerman is the former associate editor of redefinED. She is a former correspondent for the Tampa Bay Times and reporter for The Tampa Tribune, writing about everything from cops and courts to social services and education. She grew up in Indiana and moved to Tampa as a teenager, graduating from Brandon High School and, later, from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications/news editing. Sherri passed away in March 2016.