Student headed to the Olympics, new leaders in schools, stadium renovations and more

Around the state: A Hillsborough High student is headed to the Olympics in Tokyo, new leaders at Collier schools, Bragg Memorial Stadium renovations are ahead of schedule at Florida A&M University, and an expanded summer school session wraps this week in Martin. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Palm Beach: Homelessness didn’t deter Matthew Williamson from attending college, a dream he’s had for as long as he can remember. Williamson walked across the stage and accepted his diploma from Inlet Grove High School on June 17. Next year, he will attend Palm Beach State College. Palm Beach Post.

Hillsborough: State education commissioner Richard Corcoran recently sent a stern letter to the Hillsborough County School Board after they denied renewal applications for four charter schools. Corcoran gave the school board a deadline of 5 p.m. today to either renew the contracts or provide “every factual and legal justification” for their decision not to renew. A special school board meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. today. Corcoran said he will review the reasoning provided by the school board and decide whether to put the district under state oversight. WUSF.  Tampa teens reported a Blake High School teacher’s sexual comments, launching an investigation. Tampa Bay Times. A Tampa Bay teen is headed to the Olympics in Tokyo. Erriyon Knighton is the youngest male track Olympian since Jim Ryun in 1964. Knighton is a senior at Hillsborough High, and placed third in the men’s 200-meter trials with a time of 19.84. First Coast News. The Associated Press.

Collier: New leaders will take the reins at 20 Collier County schools this upcoming school year. The promotions and appointments by the school district come as students and teachers are preparing to return on Aug. 10. Naples Daily News.

Martin: The school district will wrap up an expanded summer school session this week that was designed to help prepare students for the next school year to make up for lost learning during the pandemic. One of the new programs helps incoming middle school students and high school students transition to their new school environment. The transition program was funded by a $30,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties. The program focuses on math, English-language arts and social emotional learning. About 30 students are participating at Stuart Middle School, and about 40 students at Jensen Beach High School. WPTV.

Collier: A teen from the United Kingdom who is on a trek to become the youngest solo pilot to fly around the world in a single-engine plane stopped to refuel in Punta Gorda this week. Travis Ludlow took off from Wycombe Air Park, flying from Poland to Russia to the United States. WINK News.

Transgender students’ rights: The Supreme Court passed on a long-winding legal battle over transgender students’ rights to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity. The issue came to light when a transgender man named Gavin Grimm sued his school board in 2015 over its policy that barred him from using the boys restroom. Politico. USA Today. CBS News. The Associated Press. 74million.

Critical race theory: School leaders, facing pandemic recovery efforts, fear critical race theory will ‘paralyze’ teachers. 74million.

Pandemic aftermath: For some students, the pain of the pandemic gave rise to activism. Chalkbeat.

Girls in schools: A new study where researchers reviewed 267 studies of education programs from 54 low-and-middle income countries found that gender-neutral programs like handing out cash aid to families of school-aged families can be just as effective at improving girls’ education as programs designed just for girls. WMFE.

College and university news: New College of Florida has a new president. Patricia Okker is a former English professor, and was officially approved as president by the State University System’s Board of Governors on June 23.  Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Polk State College had its accreditation reaffirmed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission of Colleges after a three-year process of internal and external peer review. Polk State will continue to implement its Quality Enhancement Plan, which was developed as part of the reaffirmation of the accreditation process. Lakeland Ledger. Two professors at Florida Polytechnic University received a $10,000 grant to connect Polk County high school girls to the field of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Susan LeFrancois and Indira Sukhraj will oversee the grant from the American Association of University Women. The grant will fund the purchase of STEM kits that highlight the university’s various areas of study. Lakeland Ledger. Florida A&M University football fans could see the new renovations at Bragg Memorial Stadium sooner than they think. Phase 1 of renovations is ahead of schedule after it began in February. Phase 2 will begin in late November after the end of the 2021 football season. The team opens fall camp on Aug. 5. Ram Construction and Development was awarded the contract after the university received $10 million from the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency board. WXTL. WCTV. The family of a Florida State University student killed in a car accident has begun a foundation in his honor. Joey DiPascale was involved in a fatal car accident in April. WCTV.

Opinions on schools:  American school board elections make easy prey for a process that economists describe as regulatory capture. Unionized employee interests and major contractors have an intense financial interest in the outcome of school board elections.  Matthew Ladner, redefinED. Responding to the Black Lives Matter campaign, the National Trust commissioned a report documenting the ways the properties it maintains were connected with colonialists from the East India Company to the Atlantic slave trade to Virginia tobacco growing.  Diane Roberts, Florida Phoenix.