Today's news -- February 13, 2012


“In 1996, Florida began a grand experiment in education reform. Charter schools were placed in a statewide Petri dish. Critics warned that the public/private hybrids would siphon off funding and spell the end of traditional public schools. And now, some state lawmakers foolishly plan to hand charter schools the hose. The Senate Education Committee has endorsed a bill requiring local school districts to share with charter schools a portion of the $1.9 billion in construction and maintenance money collected through local taxes. Money that charter schools could use to defray leases or to buy buildings that -- rather than reverting to the public -- private operators get to keep if the school is not renewed or goes belly up. … For-profit charter management companies could take the money and build schools and lease them to the charter schools. Should the school fold, taxpayers are out the money -- and the building. Unacceptable.”

-- Orlando Sentinel editorial.,0,7431759.story




Poverty, homelessness rising sharply among Florida students

Since the economy collapsed in 2008, Florida’s student population has become poorer each year -- with almost all school districts in the state experiencing spikes in the number of kids who qualify for subsidized meals. Children have become homeless at alarming numbers as well. Homelessness among school-age children has soared from 30,878 in the 2006-07 school year to 56,680 in 2010-11. Homelessness for children of all ages, including those too young for public school, was 83,957 in 2010-11, up from 49,886 in 2006-07. The adverse effects of the economic downturn are having a significant impact on Florida’s public school system, in which more than 56 percent of students enrolled in the 2010-2011 school year qualified for subsidized meals. The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting analyzed data relating to poverty rates, homeless students and subsidized meals for all school districts before the financial crisis began up to and through the 2010-11 school year. The widespread increase in these three poverty indicators paints a picture of a state that has become much poorer after the Great Recession. Advocates for the homeless say external factors driven by poverty -- such as lack of housing, low wages, foreclosure and unemployment -- place Florida and its public school system at a critical juncture. Children living in poverty are more likely to have behavioral problems, complete fewer years of education, and, as they grow up, tend to experience more years of unemployment, according to poverty experts and research by the American Psychological Association. “I think that we are growing a Third World in our own back yard,” said Ellen Bassuk, founder and president of the National Center on Family Homelessness, an advocacy and research organization in Needham, Mass. “We look at developing countries, but we don’t look at our own country.”


Online education no substitute for the real thing


Fewer dollars flowing into statewide school repairs fund


Teacher evaluation change fuels race for union job (Jean Clements, Leo Haggerty and Joe Thomas quoted)


Bill would give parents power with failing schools (Dianne Falvo quoted)


NCLB waiver: Good for Florida? (Vicki Rodriguez quoted)

Okaloosa School Board to vote on STEMM Center (Karen Peek quoted)


Lake union president calls for end to lunch duty for teachers (B Grassel quoted),0,1863756.story


It's not the test's fault (LCEA mentioned)


Palm Beach School Board may bypass superintendent finalists and pick Gent (CTA mentioned),0,2123689.story


Volusia School Board to consider adjusting student dress code (VTO and VESA mentioned)


Pasco parents raise concerns over four-day school week


Pasco schools are worried about class sizes


Schools sniffing around for new tax revenue


Faculty seek halt to USF-Poly plan


USF Poly bill could mean loss of accreditation


It’s Scott vs. state officials in effort to raise tuition rates


Bill to allow student fee increase catches senators off guard


Former Strayer University owner gives back to students through foundation


Legislature faces host of issues in final month of work,0,3694299.story


Dockery says private Florida prisons no cheaper than public ones


Prison, school moves to change the rules


Senate releases $70.8 billion budget


Lawmakers' budget maneuvers often aren't transparent,0,6334976.column


Legislature is leaving poor Floridians without a safety net, critics say


Bondi asks justices to review redistricting


New district boundaries need work


Democrats, independents tilt Miami’s congressional districts


Redistricting maps will spur big changes in Central Florida,0,7091758.story

Leon supervisor of elections says new elections law will cost county $112,000 more


Tallahassee tax cuts put squeeze on cities


Feds reject part of state's request for Medicaid change


NRA got sweet deal on billboards from company at center of grand jury probe


Gaetz (the elder) criticized for hanging remark


Florida lawmakers tread carefully with deregulation of professions this time


Keep Florida Forever alive


Fasano popular with constituents, but not with fellow Republicans


Rising House speaker ascends leadership ladder quickly

Siplin doesn't fall in line


Obama budget bets other concerns will trump the deficit


Debunking the “entitlement society” myth


The truth about corporate taxes


Occupy Movement regroups, preparing for its next phase




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