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Study shows so-called “failing schools” may not be failing

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About That Per-Pupil Funding Increase …

State lawmakers, back home in their districts, tout the increase in education funding in the 2019-2020 budget that took effect July 1st. However, a closer look reveals that politicians shortchanged Florida’s students, educators, and their public schools once again. The Florida Policy Institute’s Holly Bullard argues that something called the Base Student Allocation number is…

Florida’s school grading system rests on shoulders of children

On Friday, the Florida Department of Education released FSA scores to school districts and parents. This single standardized test determines advancement to the next grade, graduation eligibility, teacher pay, school grades and funding. For many, this is a time for celebration- for others, a time for concern. Regardless, it must be a time of reflection…

Bill to arm teachers passes another committee

There is only one more stop for a major bill that allows classroom teachers to carry guns while teaching. Senate Bill 7030 expands the so-called Guardian Bill passed last year after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The current law establishes “guardians” who are non-instructional school staff who choose…

Florida House, Senate far apart on education budget

The Republican-led Florida House and Senate released competing budget proposals on Friday. The budgets differ from each other and also differ in many ways from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposals. The House’s total budget is $89.9 billion, while the Senate’s total is $90.3 billion. Both proposals are higher overall than current state government spending levels. Debates…

Florida’s public schools deserve support

by Betty Castor, published by the Tampa Bay Times Betty Castor, former teacher, Hillsborough County commissioner and state senator, served as Florida’s commissioner of education and later as president of the University of South Florida. Castor has been president and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She currently chairs the board at…

ICYMI: Graduation rates increased again!

In case you missed the news during the holiday bustle, graduation rates increased across Florida. Students are graduating at record rates, reaching a 15-year high in the last school year at 86.1 percent, according to the state Department of Education. Nearly every sub-group of students tracked achieved increases including African-American students, Hispanic students, students with…

Arizona voucher opponents’ win- a model for Florida?

Florida school voucher proponents overwhelmingly won their elections in November. Avid supporters like Governor-elect DeSantis, likely Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran and leadership in the Florida Legislature are poised to usher in an expansion of the controversial voucher programs that funnel tax money to private schools with little to no accountability. The award winning Orlando…

Rough road ahead for Florida’s public schools

Governor-elect DeSantis has named Richard Corcoran as his pick for the next Florida Commissioner of Education. As the previous Speaker of the House, Corcoran ushered in two of the most harmful and sweeping education bills which greatly expanded charters and vouchers while attempting to restrict traditional public schools. Corcoran — whose wife runs a Pasco…

Tampa Bay Times: Answering questions about the referendum

The Tampa Bay Times has endorsed the school referendum on the ballot in Hillsborough County in November. They followed up with a column on why voters should pass the referendum: The Hillsborough County school tax on the Nov. 6 ballot is a smart, necessary investment in the nation’s eighth-largest school system. The 10-year, half-penny sales…

Tampa Bay Times, Chamber of Commerce endorse referendum

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the Tampa Bay Times have endorsed the Hillsborough school referendum on the ballot on November 6th. On Thursday, the Chamber voted to support Hillsborough’s schools. In a statement, they acknowledged the alignment between a strong education system and a healthy economy: “This tax would help to provide our…

Town halls provide referendum information to voters

Voters are encouraged to attend an information session to learn more about the Hillsborough Schools Referendum that will appear on the November 6th ballot. Here is the schedule of Town Halls hosted by Superintendent Jeff Eakins: September 24, 6 p.m. at Plant City High School, One Raider Place, Plant City September 26, 7 p.m. at…

School referendum to appear on November 6th ballot

At the August 24th school board meeting, Hillsborough School Board members decided to ask voters to approve a half-cent, 10-year local sales tax increase on the November 6th ballot. The vote, opposed by April Griffin and Melissa Snively, was 5-2 and will pit schools against a local group advocating for a one penny sales tax…

A/C problems plague Hillsborough schools

School is back in session but it still feels like summer outside. Massive air conditioning problems are causing summer-like temperatures inside classrooms across Hillsborough County. Social media sites are flush with photographs of thermostats showing temperatures of 87 and 88 degrees in classrooms at a number of Hillsborough schools — new and old, high-achieving and…

Florida Supreme Court strikes Amendment 8 from the ballot

This afternoon, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the controversial proposed constitutional Amendment 8 should remain off of the November ballot. They agreed with the lower court that the summary and title were misleading to voters. From the Tampa Bay Times: Its ruling on the three-pronged initiative is final. Elections supervisors across Florida are slated…

School board races decided by only a few voters

School board races decided by a few voters It turns out that the people who represent us and our children on the school board earned their seats thanks to just a small percentage of voters. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Those little ovals next to the candidates’ names went unmarked by the thousands. In…

Primary voters in Florida exceed 2014 totals

Primary voters in Florida exceed 2014 totals Over 1.9 million Florida primary voters had already voted before polls opened on Election Day. Election supervisors are predicting an increase over the last midterm primary election held in 2014. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Republican voters have had more vote-by-mail ballots returned than Democrats. Even before…

DeVos considers allowing federal funds for guns in schools

According to the Washington Post, sources inside the U.S. Department of Education say Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering allowing federal funds to buy guns for schools. Two people said the question being contemplated inside the department is whether states are allowed to use money available through Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants to buy firearms.…

Amendment 5 puts school funding, Florida’s future in jeopardy

Amendment 5 puts school funding, Florida’s future in jeopardy Florida’s current per-pupil, school funding is below the pre-recession level, when accounting for inflation, and could be made even worse if voters approve a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution in November according to a new policy brief by the nonpartisan Florida Policy Institute. Amendment 5 would require a…

Florida’s schools need fix to access millions for kids’ health services

Florida has the opportunity to improve children’s health and educational outcomes while drawing down millions in additional federal funds for school-based Medicaid services by making a series of statutory and regulatory changes, according to a new brief by the Florida Policy Institute. Of the 2.7 million students enrolled in public schools, over 1 million are covered…

Republican vouchers give $7,200 for claims of “bullying”

This year the Republican controlled Florida Legislature passed a bill that gives up to $7,200 vouchers to students who claim to have been bullied. The so-called “Hope Scholarship” provides vouchers to students who report bullying and other offenses. These vouchers can be used at private schools or the students can request a transfer to another…

Florida risks $1.1 billion due to lack of federal ESSA plan

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed by Congress in the fall of 2015. It was a rare piece of major federal legislation that was truly a bipartisan effort- co-authored by a Republican and a Democrat. This law replaced No Child Left Behind and governs the federal role in public education primarily for elementary…

Charter schools behind deceptive Amendment 8

In November, Florida voters will have a chance to vote on Amendment 8, a proposed addition to the state constitution. This proposal claims to require school board term limits and civics literacy but it actually creates a state-wide committee that would have the sole authority to authorize charter schools. As News 4 in Jacksonville reports,…

Why don’t we treat teachers as professionals?

This year, the nation watched as teachers in numerous states began to walk out of schools and storm state capitals demanding better working conditions for themselves and better learning conditions for their students. Many of these states offered no collective bargaining rights yet educators were organized and angry. West Virginia teachers ended their strike after…

Future of public education in Florida voters’ hands

This election cycle, Florida voters will choose a new governor, half of the state senate and the entire state house. The winners of these races will shape the future of Florida’s public schools determining school funding, teacher evaluations and pay scales, testing policies, graduation requirements and more. The new governor will choose a Commissioner of…

Speaker holds education budget hostage

From WLRN: Under House Budget Plan, No Public School Funding Without Corcoran Education Bill By JESSICA BAKEMAN • JAN 31, 2018 A budget proposal that is advancing in the Legislature would make next year’s funding for Florida’s public schools contingent on the passage of Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s chief education priority: a new voucher directing taxpayer dollars…

Student leaders help raise grad rates to record levels across Tampa Bay

Student Alliance for Public Schools leaders worked in high schools across the region to raise high school graduation rates to record levels. From the Tampa Bay Times: Graduation rates in Florida and the Tampa Bay area continued their steady rise last year, with three local school districts surpassing the state average and all four of…

In her own words: My experience with Parent Teacher Home Visit Project

My experience with Parent Teacher Home Visit Project was truly eye-opening. I have always known that there is so much more to teaching than simply what goes on in the classroom. We all know the old adage “it all starts at home” but the child’s home life is a very important part of their school…

Civil citations keep kids in school, out of jail

As the new school year begins, many counties are looking at ways to keep students in class and out of jail by employing the use of civil citations instead of arrests for minor, non-violent offenses. Orange County is one central Florida district pledging to increase their use of civil citations in an intentional effort to…

You did it! A nurse in every Pinellas public school

You advocated for funding for a nurse in every Pinellas County Public School and they listened! This week the Pinellas Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted to provide funding for a school nurse in every public school. The Board acknowledged that the state should pay the costs but agreed to fund the program while still…

Florida’s anti-science bill signed into law

In addition to HB 7069, the sweeping 278 page education bill, a few other education related bills were passed this session. According to the National Center for Science Education, HB 989 has the potential to greatly impact science education in the state. Florida’s House Bill 989, aimed at empowering Floridians to object to the use of…

Report shows Florida shortchanges children

Kids Count 2017, the annual study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, found that Florida’s children experienced an overall decline in economic well-being. According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Florida children are falling behind in economic well-being, but enjoyed gains in health, maintaining the state’s rank of 40th out of the 50 states in the latest…

Powerful commission and election will determine the future of Florida

The 2018 election season is already shaping up to be a momentous one for Florida’s public schools. The governor’s office and cabinet positions will be on the ballot along with  other seats including the U.S. Senate, House and a slew of State House and Senate races. Every 20 years the Constitution Revision Commission meets and…

Will the new education law impact you? Find out here.

Governor Scott signed HB 7069 into law at a private, voucher school in Orlando. It was a fitting setting for a bill that funnels billions of taxpayer dollars into private voucher and charter entities with little to no public oversight. This bill was created by jamming 55 different education bills into one unwieldy, 278 page…

Florida’s school grades rise against backdrop of harsh legislative session

The Florida Department of Education released school grades this week. Across the state, districts saw their grades rise with the number of schools earning A’s and B’s increasing by 20 percent. 79 percent of schools that were an F a year ago saw an increase of at least one letter grade, including Melrose Elementary in…

Take Action: Hillsborough School Board members seek input on budget

As Hillsborough County Public Schools brace for the impact of the recently approved state education budget and new legislation (House Bill 7069), the school board held a workshop on June 20th to discuss their budget. Much of the four hours of was devoted to district leaders presenting information on budget trends dating back to the…

Scott signs controversial education bill into law

Governor Scott signed the controversial House Bill 7069 into law today at a Catholic voucher school in Orlando. The education bill makes sweeping changes to public education and most public education stakeholders spoke against it and urged Scott to veto the bill. Kristen Clark with the Miami Herald writes: The bill will make it easier…

Gov. Scott gets budget; veto clock is ticking

From the Tampa Bay Times: The clock starts today for Gov. Rick Scott who has 15 days to decide whether to sign an $82.4 billion state budget — and just how much of it he wants to veto. Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, on Wednesday is sending the budget bill (SB 2500) to Scott, who…

Senate Surrenders to House, Passes Devastating Education Bill

Senators debated the sweeping conforming bill for three and a half hours Monday night. In the end, the vote split the Senate 20-18 with three Republicans crossing the aisle to vote with the Democrats. A tie vote would have killed the bill. Many spoke passionately about the break down of the democratic process when Senate President…

House and Senate leaders play politics using Florida’s children

Late Friday, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Negron held a meeting to reveal a plan they devised behind closed doors that effectively tied the testing and recess bill to a devastating budget. According to the Miami Herald: At the insistence of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, numerous major changes to education policy for Florida’s K-12…

House to decide fate of VAM, testing, and recess today

This afternoon, the Florida House will determine the fate of the repeal of VAM (the mandatory, statewide use of test scores in teachers’ evaluations), a rollback of testing and mandatory recess. They convene at 1 p.m. for what should have been the last day of session. The Miami Herald reports: HB 549 eliminates only a single test…

Florida politicians poised to funnel millions to unproven charters

A bill being negotiated in backrooms of Tallahassee would send $200 million to charter schools to turnaround under-performing schools in primarily low income neighborhoods. The bill was once called “schools of success” but politicians changed it to “schools of hope.” As Duval Schools Superintendent Vitti wrote in a letter to Florida senators, “The term success could…

Grad Day for Tampa Bay a HUGE success!

Grad Day for Tampa Bay 2017 was a huge success! Held Thursday, March 2nd in the Hilton Tampa Downtown, students and community members from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties came together to raise graduation rates for the entire region by focusing on building youth-adult partnerships. The students were the stars of Grad Day. Over 200 youth from…

DeVos Confirmed in Historic Tie Breaker

Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the Senate as the Secretary of Education today. Advocacy forced the vote to a historic 50-50 tie. Students need your voices now more than ever. Sign up today to stay informed and be an education advocate: Read more about the vote from Roll Call: For the first time ever, the…

4 Reasons Betsy DeVos is Unqualified to be Secretary of Education

  Betsy DeVos is an extremely controversial pick for Secretary of Education. Her three hour confirmation hearing featured many uncomfortable exchanges and left many senators formally requesting an additional hearing which was denied. The vote to confirm or deny will be held on January 31st. Here is what we know about Betsy DeVos: 1. She has…

Students use their power to raise grad rates

Graduation rates rise; students make a difference We received an early present this year! Graduation rates are up again! We are thrilled to have partnered with Hillsborough County Public Schools to increase the number of students who are graduating. According to new information released from the Florida Department of Education, Hillsborough County Public Schools’ graduation rate…

STEM Family Night provides hands on learning

Last night, we hosted a STEM Family Night at Hillsborough Community College Brandon Campus with Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) and Hillsborough County Public Schools. This invitation only event was sponsored by Moffitt Cancer Center and is a project of the Tampa Bay STEM Network of which we are proud members. Families from surrounding…

Want to raise graduation rates? Ask these kids

The Alliance firmly believes that students know the solutions to barriers that prevent them from graduating. However, they must have input with decision makers in order to affect change. The Alliance provides them leadership training and empowers their voice. In partnership with principals and districts, we provide the space for them to express themselves and give…

This is what 40,000 books for kids looks like!

Partners come together for kids Last week we joined with other organizations to give away 40,000 FREE books to kids in the greater Tampa Bay area! Thanks to a sponsorship by Wipro and the American Federation of Teachers- area non-profits received a semi-tractor trailer full of children’s books from First Book- a nonprofit dedicated to giving new…

August election will determine important school board races

Numerous school board seats across the state are on the August 30th ballot. Many of these races will be won or lost that day while candidates that fail to secure at least 51% of the vote will face a runoff election on November 8th. In addition, many state House and Senate candidates face primary opponents…

Parent involvement is the key to success

This week marks the beginning of a new school year for many districts around Florida with the rest following next week. In a recent editorial, the Tampa Bay Times reminds us that parents play a pivotal role for students. Studies show that parent involvement in school, academics and students’ lives is a major factor in their…

Commissioner Stewart wants to hear from you

Now’s your chance to give the Florida Department of Education your opinion on all things education, including testing and the current accountability system. As the state begins to tackle the implementation of the new national education law (Every Student Succeeds Act) they have set up a website to collect feedback from stakeholders. As the Tampa Bay…

Parents, Districts, Department of Education face off over 3rd grade retention

A showdown is occurring over the issue of mandatory 3rd grade retention. Third grade students whose parents opted them out of the Florida Standards Assessment this spring are now faced with possible retention regardless of their classroom performance or grades. Manatee County was refusing to promote children without test scores to the fourth grade citing…

Students Shine at Second GradNation Summit

Pinellas and Hillsborough Student Alliance for Public Schools members presented their research and ideas on closing achievement gaps and raising graduation rates at our second annual GradNation Community Summit on Wednesday. The summit, held in St. Petersburg with partners America’s Promise Alliance and UnitedWay Suncoast, was attended by superintendents, school leaders, community members and business…

Sneaky senator breathes life into bad bills

  In an eleventh hour move, Senator Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) added over a hundred pages of policy changes to two unrelated bills. The amendments attach numerous bills together in what is commonly referred to as a “train.” Some bills, thought to be long dead, now comprise two runaway “trains” moving through the Florida Senate. The controversial…

Florida House wants to push property tax dollars to unpredictable charters

The Florida House is pushing to force school districts to turn over a portion of local property taxes to charter schools. These schools are housed in privately owned buildings on privately owned land that would be improved with public dollars. Some legislators are pushing to steer more money to charter schools even though a recent…

House and Senate Divided on Education Budget

The House and Senate released their Education budgets last week with the Senate proposing more per pupil funding and less charter school construction money than the House. The House version asks property tax payers to bear much of the funding burden while the Senate expects the state to pay more. It’s early in the budget…

What to expect in the 2016 Florida Legislative Session

The 2016 Florida Legislative Session begins Tuesday. What should public education supporters expect? Well, not much according to policy leaders in Tallahassee. Congress passed a sweeping overhaul to No Child Left Behind at the end of 2015, keeping annual testing but providing a great deal of flexibility to states on how to use the results.…

Florida’s Board of Ed sets FSA and school grades

Today, Florida’s Board of Education met to determine cut scores for the Florida Standards Assessment tests given last spring. In September, after months of input from a 300 person Reactor Panel and a teacher panel, Commissioner Stewart released her recommended cut scores, or passing rates. The Board of Education debated them at their November meeting…

40,000 FREE books given away in one day event

 We had so much fun on Saturday! We helped give away over 40,000 books to children in a one day event called “Home Library for the Holidays.” The event was presented by First Book and sponsored by Molina Healthcare, American Federation of Teachers, Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, United Way Suncoast. and us! People starting lining…

No Child Left Behind’s replacement signed into law

Today, President Obama will sign the Every Student Succeeds Act into law. Earlier this week, the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill which is the replacement for No Child Left Behind. The new policy will hand much more control for education decisions to the states. The bill, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, replaces…

6 Things you need to know about the end of No Child Left Behind

6 Things you need to know about the end of No Child Left Behind In 2007, Congress was supposed to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act (No Child Left Behind). Eight years later, it looks like they will finally get around to it. Yesterday, the Senate Education Committee, joined by more than a dozen House…

8 Things You Need To Know About the FSA (and what you can do about it)

8 Things You Need to Know About FSA Scores (and what you can do about it) The Florida Standard’s Assessment (FSA) was given for the first time last March but final grading for the test has yet to be determined and there’s a lot riding on it. The test, given to all 3rd through 10th graders,…

How to make the most of your parent teacher conference

  It’s that time of year again. Time to sit down with your child’s teacher. As with most things in life, preparation is the key to a successful parent teacher conference. A good parent teacher conference can result in a collaborative relationship that will last the school year. A positive relationship between the caregiver and teacher…

Student FSA results released, but what do they mean?

  Florida school districts were finally given student FSA scores by the Department of Education. They are beginning to release this information to parents. However, the reports will not tell parents whether their student has passed the test or even how well they scored. Passing scores (also called cut scores) will not be set by the…

Roundup: Florida’s accountability system under fire

  In case you missed it, Florida’s testing obsessed accountability is coming under some fire of late. Here’s a round up of many of the articles, columns, and editorials from around the state addressing the use of the controversial FSA results in Florida’s accountability system: Parents lack meaningful say in their child’s education -Lakeland Ledger Florida…

FL Superintendents “have lost confidence in the accountability system”

Florida’s superintendents issued a strong statement today announcing that they “have lost confidence in the current accountability system for the students of the State of Florida.” The comments were released in response to Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart’s position that the state’s assessments are valid and should be used to grade schools, evaluate teachers and determine…

Four surprising findings that will increase graduation rates

Last year members of the Student Alliance for Public Schools conducted research at 4 high schools in Hillsborough County about barriers and needed supports related to high school graduation. They found that what students identified as the most important element in their quest for a diploma is supportive relationships. The students presented their findings to the…

Florida test declared valid

The Florida Department of Education released the findings of the state mandated validity study of its Florida Standards Assessment this morning. The study found the test to be reliable and it can be used to evaluate teachers and determine school grades. However, the report recommended that the test not be used for student level consequences,…

Poll: Americans want less testing, more funding

The 47th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public Attitudes Toward the Public Schools is out. The poll, called “Testing Doesn’t Measure Up for Americans,” is the longest continuously running survey of Americans’ attitudes toward public education. Not surprisingly, this year’s survey shows that Americans want less testing for students and teachers and more funding for…

Will Florida’s new test be valid?

Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature passed a law requiring a validity study of the state’s new annual test that replaced the FCAT. The Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) was first used last school year and it’s implementation was fraught with technology problems and reports of flawed questions. Two different testing companies were hired and have been working…

How one superintendent is moving away from testing

Currently, there has been a growing backlash against standardized testing in K-12 education. Parents have long complained that their students are being overtested resulting in a loss of instruction time. Federal and state policies like No Child Left Behind have driven the hyper-testing phenomenon as bureaucrats are hungry for data on student, school, district and state performance.…

Student Alliance leader helps build a #GradNation

OK…we have to take a minute to brag. One of our students is featured in the Tampa Bay Times for his founding work with the Student Alliance for Public Schools. Full disclosure- he’s also the son of our Executive Director, Melissa Erickson. But, that doesn’t matter. Daniel Erickson is the perfect example of all of…

What if teachers were treated like athletes?

Comedians Key & Peele have done it again. They’ve focused their sharp, satirical wit on the subject of teachers and teaching and have left us wistfully saying, “If only…” From Slate: By now, the lament about how our culture privileges athletics over education is an old one—but Key & Peele has breathed new life into it in…

Student Alliance members collaborate for student success

This year’s Youth Leadership Conference was a lot of fun! 40 students from 7 Tampa area high schools met at Jefferson High School for three days of collaboration, brainstorming and creativity. The students are members of the Student Alliance for Public Schools. They are working on student led solutions to raising the graduation rates at their schools.…

Senate Passes Education Bill

In a show of overwhelming bipartisan support Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted to pass sweeping changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The vote was 81-17 and came after a week of amendments, negotiations and debate. Last week, the House passed its own version and there are stark differences between the two. However, leaders from…

Declare Independence from Testing

As you celebrate Independence Day with your families, we urge you to declare independence from testing for all students.   This week, the Senate will debate the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act– the expired law of the land that controls education policy. Also known as “No Child Left Behind”, the current law has been…

Congress leaves kids behind

As high school graduation season wraps up around the country, the class of 2015 has one unique characteristic you might not be aware of. This year’s graduates are the first class in the nation to complete all 13 years of schooling under the law known as “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB). These students, and their…

Broken promises: state late again

Another deadline has come and gone with districts still waiting for exam results from the state. The state promised districts a list of students in the bottom quintile of the Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2 tests by June 8th. As of this writing, no results have been released. In late May, the Florida Department of Education…

Less money for schools than promised

Florida lawmakers are wrapping up the budget work that was so contentious it required a special session to complete. Most issues have been settled including the education budget. Last minute negotiations on special projects and other issues are underway. However, they hope to have it done in time for a Friday adjournment. Florida’s 67 county school…

Schools Likely Losers in Budget Fight

News out of Tallahassee Tuesday night says the House and Senate have reached an agreement on education spending levels. Reportedly, they have agreed to a modest 3% increase that puts school spending below 2002 funding levels. Governor Scott campaigned on investing in K-12 education and proposed a record high $7,175 per pupil funding in his budget…

Legislature returns to Tallahassee for special session

The Florida Legislature opened the special session Monday in Tallahassee. Because they ended regular session without passing a budget, legislative leaders had to convene a special session in order to avoid a government shut down. The House and Senate are still at odds over federal Medicaid funding and budget negotiations will not begin until next weekend.…

Congratulations to the Class of 2015!

Graduation ceremonies are underway across Florida. We here at the Alliance for Public Schools want to send a huge CONGRATULATIONS to all graduates! You’ve reached this milestone through your hard work and perseverence with the help of teachers, families and caring adults. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you! There are many…

MaryEllen Elia hired as NY’s Commissioner of Education

In a unanimous vote today, the New York Board of Education voted to hire MaryEllen Elia as their new Commissioner of Education. This from the Tampa Bay Times: The workforce and budget of the New York Department of Education are about a tenth the size of those she supervised in Hillsborough. But the department she…

Florida’s Testing Fiasco- a recap

As recently as Wednesday, there were still reports of major testing problems happening in school districts across the state. Florida lawmakers had passed a series of laws requiring everything from annual tests in every subject (resulting in 7 “final exams” for kindergarteners in some districts) to adopting new standards for Kindergarten through 12th grade to…

No teacher pay or summer programs if government shuts down

The 2015 Legislative Session ended in a budget stalemate when the House abruptly left the Capitol. The Republican controlled House and Senate are sharply divided over the issue of Medicaid funding. They have jointly agreed to return on June 1st for a special session to pass a budget before June 30th. Governor Scott has requested…

Hillsborough rolls out options for students on exams

In a press conference Tuesday, Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins outlined his plan to give options to students that took the Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Geometry state end of course exams. Florida’s Department of Education announced Monday that the exams will not count for a grade this year as they’ve moved to a new platform…

Orange County announces plan to “do no harm” with new district final exams

Superintendent Jenkins announced this morning that Orange County Public Schools will drastically change the new district end of course exam policy called common finals.  The superintendent stated that scores for the finals would be used only if they improved a student’s grade.  The finals were implemented this year in response to a legislative mandate. All district…

Algebra I, II and Geometry EOCs will not count this year

BREAKING: The Florida Department of Education announced that Algebra I, II and Geometry End of Course exams will not count this year. This from the Tampa Bay Times Gradebook blog: In a memo to superintendents, Lyons wrote that the state will not have completed its independent validity study of the exams before grades are issued.…

Legislative leaders announce special session agenda

Speaker of the House Crisafulli and Senate President Gardiner released a joint statement on Friday outlining the scope of the special session. They will convene on June 1st at 11 p.m. and promise to have a budget ready for Governor Scott’s signature before the fiscal year expires at midnight on June 30th.  They will discuss…

Governor warns of possible “government shutdown”

Governor Scott issued a statement that asks agencies to identify their critical needs in case the Florida Senate and House cannot come to agreement on a state budget by July 1st. He blamed a possible government shutdown on the Senate and their push to expand Medicaid. From the Tampa Bay Times: Scott’s order puts agencies…

Legislature to hold Special Session

In a joint statement yesterday, House and Senate leaders announced a special session to begin June 1st and conclude June 20th. They are divided on the issue of Medicaid funding from the federal government. Lawmakers must return to the state capital to finish the budget by June 30 and, integral to that decision, is addressing the…

#ThankATeacher

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week! We celebrate teachers every day but especially during this special week. We’ve been posting our favorite quotes about teaching on Facebook this week. We also have curated some creative ideas to help you honor your children’s teachers on Pinterest. Join us and participate in the #ThankATeacher campaign on Twitter. We hope you…

House, Senate and Governor face off over budget stalemate

The 2015 Legislative Session abruptly ended without passing a constitutionally required budget. Now, all sides are facing off as they decide how to proceed. The Senate Democrats filed an emergency petition with the Florida Supreme Court arguing that the House violated the state constitution when they abruptly adjourned without notice. The House sharply disagreed. Senate President…

Legislature passes one education bill this year

The House abruptly adjourned yesterday afternoon effectively ending the opportunity to pass additional legislation. HB 7069, a sweeping testing reform bill, was the only education bill that made it all the way to the governor’s desk this session. Read more from the Tampa Bay Times: Going into the 2015 Florida legislative session, Senate Education Committee…

Florida House abruptly ends session; declares “sine die”

Today, the House abruptly declared “sine die” and adjourned. The Senate is still in session but many bills are now dead. A special session will be called in order to pass a budget. Here’s more from the Florida School Boards Association’s Ruth Melton: The Florida House of Representatives adjourned, sine die, at about 1:30 pm today. …

Districts begin to roll back testing

District mandated end of course exams are no longer required in state law thanks to the passage of the testing bill this month. Most districts had been taking steps throughout the spring to reduce the their local testing. However, no district had released new policies on end of course exams since Governor Scott signed HB 7069…

Testing system down…again

According to Jeff Solochek at the Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s testing system is having problems today. Florida’s online testing system crashed again Monday morning, after a relatively problem-free week. In a repeat of troubles that occurred during the March writing exams, schools were not able to access the servers of vendor American Institutes for Research.…