Education

The Florida Department of Education has decided that the annual standardized tests in math, science and English will go ahead this spring, and be held in-person only, leaving some parents concerned about how remote learners will manage that safely as coronavirus infections continue to mount.

Kelly Spezzano, a Polk County mother of three, says parents are still juggling the added stress of the pandemic, along with difficulties that children have faced in remote learning, and concerns about the health and well-being of their extended families.

Florida State University will hold in-person commencement ceremonies for its spring graduates.

President John Thrasher has announced that the university will hold 11 smaller commencement ceremonies at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center over the course of two weekends – April 17-18 & 23-24. Thrasher will serve as the featured speaker at each ceremony.

Reversing course from a decision last year, a fiercely divided appeals court Wednesday said charter schools are entitled to a cut of tax dollars that Palm Beach County voters approved in 2018 for more-traditional public schools.

Nurses put the health, safety and wellness of their patients before their own. But the coronavirus pandemic is placing more stress and medical risks on frontline health care workers.

The University of South Florida’s College of Nursing this week launched an educational training program designed to help nurses protect their health as they treat COVID-19 patients.

The four-part webinar series, “Frontline Nursing During COVID-19: A New Paradigm,” provides nurses with the tools they need to advocate for their own safety and well-being during the pandemic.

Questions Raised About CARES Act Money Earmarked For Florida Schools

Feb 15, 2021
Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

A Florida House panel looking at public-school funding is asking the state Department of Education for answers on how federal CARES Act money is being spent, and if those expenditures are tied to COVID-19 recovery.

Girls Inc. Participants
Girls Inc.

Amber Ferrell, 17, is a varsity cheerleader, a member of the National Honors Society, and among the top in her class at Jacksonville’s William M. Raines High School. She attributes her achievements to her own hard work, of course, but also to an afterschool program called Girls, Inc. 

90,000.

That's about how many fewer students are enrolled in public schools this year. It's also a number that could determine everything from school funding to how the state should count student test scores, and it's a figure that's weighing heavily on the minds of lawmakers that will have to come up with plans to address COVID-19's impact on education.

Florida school districts are planning to administer state exams next month, but don’t know how those exams will be used. Lynn Hatter reports as the testing window draws closer, a pair of Florida Democrats want the state to not put much stock into the results.

Fla. Lawmakers, School Officials Eye Drop In Student Enrollment During Pandemic

Feb 2, 2021
News Service of Florida

Florida legislators and local education officials are trying to pinpoint what happened to nearly 90,000 “missing” public school students, as public school enrollment estimates have dropped amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legislation that would survey university students on whether competing ideas and perspectives are presented and welcomed on campus passed its first committee stop today. Sen. Ray Rodrigues (R-Fort Myers) says the bill is needed to ensure students are hearing competing viewpoints.

"Students need to be asked in your college classroom are you being provided an environment that provides for viewpoint diversity and intellectual freedom," said Rodrigues. "Without asking that question we won’t have the data to know if what we know is happening in other states is happening in Florida.”

An effort to shield public college and university presidential searches from the public is back again. This year’s proposal would keep private the names of applicants until the top three finalists have been selected. Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) says the current process scares away qualified candidates.

“If you have to go and tell your employer or worse your employer finds out on some newspaper or blog that definitely will have a chilling effect on your willingness to apply for a top university," said Brandes.

News4Jax

The director of the Duval County Public Schools Police Department has resigned.

Florida Senate Releases Sweeping School Choice Proposal

Jan 25, 2021

Republican legislative leaders are lauding a sweeping school-choice measure filed Thursday, while Senate Democrats have vowed to “fight like hell” against the proposal.

The legislation, filed by Republican Sen. Manny Diaz of Hialeah, would expand eligibility for school-voucher programs, consolidate existing school-choice programs and allow parents to use taxpayer-backed education savings accounts for private schools and other costs.

Excel23

North Florida Congressman Al Lawson, D-FL5, announced Thursday that colleges and universities in Jacksonville are getting an additional $73.4 million in federal emergency relief funding as part of the $900 billion stimulus package Congress passed last month. 

Duval County Public Schools

The Duval County Public Schools district is adjusting its timeline for notifying the public about new COVID-19 cases.

Florida High School Graduation Rates Climb Amid Pandemic

Jan 11, 2021

Graduation rates for Florida high school students ticked up last year, with 90 percent of students graduating, according to a state Department of Education report released last week.

Duval Teachers Contract Approved; Deal Called 'Not Equitable, But Fair'

Jan 6, 2021
Duval County Public Schools headquarters
BOB SELF / THE FLORIDA TIMES-UNION

Duval County Public Schools teachers voted to approve a new contract which will include pay raises for thousands of early career teachers and School Board members but leaves many veteran teachers feeling neglected.

School teachers are calling for a change in the vaccine distribution plan created by Governor Ron DeSantis. While DeSantis says he’s prioritizing the highly vulnerable elderly population first, school employees are asking to be included on the priority list. Scott Mazur is the president of the Leon Classroom Teachers Association.

Could Schools Eventually Require Coronavirus Vaccines?

Dec 31, 2020

Schools typically have a list of vaccines students are required to get before coming to class, preventing illnesses like the measles or chicken pox. Could a coronavirus vaccine join the group in the future?

Dr. Marissa Levine, professor with the University of South Florida's College of Public Health, says maybe.

The coronavirus can spread from person to person easily, which Levine said is an important factor when states consider which disease vaccinations are required from its students.

Jacksonville Classical Academy's Facebook page / Via News4Jax

Parents with students at Jacksonville Classical Academy, a charter school in Mixon Town, said they were surprised to learn that the school made the decision to end its virtual learning program starting in January.

Couple Charged In Teacher Certification Test Scheme

Dec 14, 2020

An Estero couple, both educators, entered not-guilty pleas Friday in federal court, after being hit with more than 100 wire-fraud and racketeering charges stemming from an alleged scheme that involved selling Florida teacher-certification test information.

Authorities say that between January 2016 and March 2020, Kathleen M. Jasper, 42, and Jeremy M. Jasper, 40, allegedly sold fraudulently obtained content from the Florida Teacher Certification Exam and the Florida Educational Leadership Exam, which is for administrators.

More than 5,000 graduates will receive their degrees during the University of South Florida's virtual commencement Saturday.

It's the third straight semester USF is holding a virtual ceremony because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like the spring and summer graduates, USF is inviting the fall graduates to take part in an in-person ceremony sometime in the future. Students were also invited to submit a photo, video, and written message that will appear on screen during the virtual ceremony.

Picture of schbool bus
Indiana Public Media

The St. Johns County School District is ending students' ability to move between virtual and in-class instruction starting in January.

When Black students enroll at the University of South Florida, research shows they graduate at higher rates than whites. But the number of Black students enrolling as freshman has dropped 2.4 percent since 2014, according to USF.

“It's a trend that we don't like to see,” said Paul Dosal, vice president of student success at USF. It’s also troubling, he said, because once Black students enroll at USF, they tend to do well.

Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) Superintendent Diana Greene has been named Superintendent of the Year by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS).

Duval County Teacher of the Year Finalists.
Duval County Public Schools & WJCT News

The Duval County Public Schools district has announced the five finalists for VyStar Duval County Teacher Of the Year after starting with 175 nominees.

DeSantis Says Schools Will Remain Open In Spring, But Parents Will Have Choice

Dec 1, 2020

Public school instruction will continue in-person and online this spring as coronavirus cases continue to increase across Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said Monday.

Appearing at Boggy Creek Elementary School in Kissimmee, DeSantis supported a new order by Corcoran that will keep the online option available and provide protections for school-district funding.

If you’re a student at the University of West Florida, you’ll be staying home and firing up the computer beginning later this month.

All classes are going straight online after Thanksgiving, and while it coincides with a rise in coronavirus cases here and elsewhere, it’s actually a pre-planned move.

“When we put together our plan for reopening – that was approved by the Board of Governors – that included how we were going to spend the fall semester,” said UWF President Martha Saunders.

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran
News Service of Florida

Florida students will be able to continue to learn remotely through the second half of the school year as the state grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said Wednesday.

As more students identify as transgender and gender non-conforming, colleges are changing housing policies to accommodate them. In Tallahassee, one student group is pushing Florida State University to be more inclusive.

Jay Galante is a senior at Florida State University who's president of Gender Odyssey, a transgender and non-binary student social group. They're pushing FSU to be more proactive in reaching out to transgender and gender non-conforming students who apply to live on-campus.

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