Today's news -- January 20, 2017




UTD protests Trump education secretary pick

Dozens of Miami-Dade teachers joined more than 200 other teacher unions across the country Thursday in protesting President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education. Close to 100 teachers and activists gathered outside Miami Jackson Senior High School to urge the U.S. Senate to reject Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. Similar rallies were held in 25 states in an effort intended to ramp up political opposition to DeVos, a powerful proponent of parental choice and charter schools, and to call for greater investment in public education and schools. Demonstrators in Allapattah lined 36th Street outside the high school, waving signs and chanting “Betsy needs to go!” and “Save our schools!” as some passing cars honked in support. “How can we have a nominee who has never even attended a public school, whose children have never attended public school?” asked Donna Walker, a special-education teacher at Brucie Ball Educational Center, voicing a common complaint among the protesters. “If she is appointed, the message will be sent that you can buy your way into the White House,” added co-worker Ivonne Diaz. The controversy over DeVos’ nomination stems from both her lack of experience and her support for the school choice movement. Supporters advocate for options like charter schools, which are publicly funded but run by independent governing boards, and school vouchers, which use public funds to help families pay for private school tuition. School choice advocates say such options enable parents to pick the best fit for their child, but critics argue that they have increasingly steered public money away from and weakened traditional public schools. At a confirmation hearing Tuesday, Democratic senators grilled DeVos about her support for school choice, her family’s political contributions and her lack of knowledge regarding education policy debates, criticisms that were echoed by the Miami-Dade teachers union. “She’s never taught a day in her life, she’s never been an administrator or a school board member,” said United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats. She “has really only been in the business of education to dismantle public education.” Tukeliah Gullett, a middle school language arts teacher at José Martí MAST Academy, also expressed concern over DeVos’ support for charter schools and voucher programs. “As a public school teacher, I have no issue with good charter schools; I have an issue with companies trying to make money off of poor kids’ education,” she said.

United Teachers of Dade said public schools will be “short-changed” financially.

“Their kids do not even go to our public schools,” said UTD President Karla Hernandez. “So they do not know what the needs are in our public schools.” During the presidential campaign Donald Trump promised to use $20 billion in federal funds to create school choice programs. Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has spent millions of her own money and time to promote school choice. “It is important to take care of what we have started in our inner cities and our best interests are not with Betsy DeVos and what she stands for,” said Ted McRay, a teacher. School choice and school voucher programs require the federal government pay for students to attend private schools. Educators said that’s a detriment to America’s public school systems and a boost to privately operated charter schools. “You can’t separate people, say you guys go there and you go to public schools,” said school board member Dr. Lawrence Feldman. “Not going to happen. Not good for us.”


DeVos is a “horrifying prospect” for public schools


Trump’s presidency is a threat to LGBT students; DeVos is just the tip of the iceberg


Volusia board, teacher's union rally for public education

Long lines of Volusia County teachers, parents and school community members wrapped around bustling intersections last April, waving protest signs in support of better teacher pay and benefits amid a two-year negotiations battle with the School Board. Thursday, as early morning commuters drove past county schools, they caught sight of similar packs of teachers and school personnel holding up signs, not in protest, but in advocacy of the public school district and its future. The morning "walk-in" event, in which nearly 600 Volusia teachers and community supporters assembled at schools to start the day in solidarity, kicked off local participation in what was dubbed a "National Day of Action for Public Education." By Thursday night, about 50 teacher union members were united with school district leaders at a meeting in the union offices in Daytona Beach, where both groups voiced priority for public education against what could be a common threat: The school choice-heavy agenda of president-elect Donald Trump and his pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos. Before the meeting, Andrew Spar, president of the teacher's union, expressed concern at the prospect of the federal government defunding public schools in line with DeVos' forceful backing of charter and private schools. That prospect holds severe consequences for the Volusia school district, which receives millions of federal dollars for its most disadvantaged schools, Spar said. "And being that we're a high poverty county, we have a high number of Title I schools," he said, "and so this could have a significant impact on Volusia County." Moving forward, Spar said the district and union aim to use the community discussion as a "springboard" to compiling a list of educational priorities for future review.


Central Florida teachers protest DeVos

Local teachers are protesting President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of education ahead of Inauguration day. Central Florida teachers said they are concerned about the agenda that could be set in place by the Trump administration with education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos leading the Department of Education. Students staged a walkout Thursday at Lovell Elementary School as part of a protest. Students and teachers told News 6 that they want more emphasis placed on public schools, not less. DeVos, whose family owns the Orlando Magic, has been a vocal advocate of charter and private schools. She said she wants tax dollars diverted from public schools to schools of choice. "Our children deserve an education. Our children deserve to be treated like people," local education union leader Ron Pollard said. Union leaders and students with colorful signs praising local public schools marched with teachers against DeVos, who they said would take away funding from public schools. “We’re protecting our kids, we’re protecting our schools and want to resist any effort to demoralize them,” Pollard said.


Bilingual teachers, Florida needs you


Financial literacy course back in Florida Legislature


Daniels files “religious liberties” bill for public schools


Obama administration spent billions to fix failing schools, and it didn’t work


Senate looks to revamp state college system

Florida state colleges would be placed under a separate 13-member governing board and face new restrictions on offering baccalaureate degrees under a Senate bill filed Thursday. Senate Education Chairwoman Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, is sponsoring the "College Competitiveness Act of 2017." The measure (SB 374) would place Florida's 28 state colleges, which are now under the Florida Board of Education, under a newly created State Board of Community Colleges. The board members, who would be appointed by the governor, would include 12 appointees, with at least one a state-college student, and the commissioner of education. Members would serve four-year terms. The board would operate similarly to the Board of Governors that oversees Florida's 12 state universities. It would also appoint a chancellor to oversee the newly renamed Florida Community College System, which is now known as the Florida College System. The legislation is part of the Senate's "excellence in higher education" agenda, which is a top priority for Senate President Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican who has raised concerns about duplication and coordination among state colleges, state universities and technical schools. "Community colleges are vital to Florida's K-20 public education system," Negron said. "With a distinct mission, separate from the role of our K-12 and state university systems, our nationally recognized community colleges deserve their own coordinating board to advocate for the success of the system." The legislation also would make clear that four-year or baccalaureate degree programs "are a secondary and not a primary role" of the community college system, focusing the schools on two-year or associate degree programs. The bill would limit the growth of baccalaureate degrees by imposing a cap, between 2 percent and 4 percent, based on the number of students enrolled in upper-level classes at each school. The legislation would also subject baccalaureate degree programs to an annual review by the Board of Community Colleges, and programs could be modified or terminated if they are not in line with compliance or need standards. Another provision is focused on technical centers run by local school districts and would prohibit those schools from offering college courses or credits, associate degrees or baccalaureate degrees.


A case study in academic crime: Koch at Florida State University


Adjunct professors and grad students are the working poor, and they need unions


Student loan suit is bold gambit on eve of Trump presidency


Study: 13 percent of UM students come from wealthiest households


Sanford Burnham faculty decides to leave institute


Local rallies look to bolster women's march in D.C.

The nation’s attention may be fixed on the 200,000 people expected to take part in the "Women’s March on Washington" on Saturday -- President-elect Donald Trump’s first full day as president -- but hundreds of people in Florida are joining local anti-Trump rallies in Orlando, West Palm Beach and Miami on the same day. Organizers say the local rallies are a way for women in Florida and across the country to speak up for “women’s rights with one united voice.” Star Fae, lead organizer for the West Palm Beach march, said the hope is "to send a bold message to the new national and state administrations on their first day of office that women are not to be ignored.” “We stand for all women, but not just for women,” added Fae. “Our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country, and defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.” The West Palm Beach rally had to be moved to a larger locale to accommodate the flood of people who signed up for it.  “This is a productive way for people to channel their anxiety in a peaceful way with a strong message to not only the president-elect but to the Congress that will be there, that we are watching, that women are watching, that we are on our toes and we care very deeply about our country and our rights,” U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat from West Palm Beach, told the Palm Beach Post. She said that she thinks there is “a lot of fear” among women that the incoming Trump administration could lead to women losing access to health care, including services provided by Planned Parenthood and benefits available under the Affordable Care Act. Frankel is attending the Washington, D.C., march and is meeting with Floridians attending the national march.


Women's March will send message to Trump


The Women’s March marks the rebirth of a fight that began long ago


Anita Hill: Trump’s election is disappointing for feminism. But it’s not the final word.


State urges judge to reject abortion law challenge


Feds continue Obamacare push as Scott lobbies for Medicaid changes


Florida child welfare system under-performing for foster kids, study finds


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Keys officials make plans to adapt roads to rising seas


Trump to be sworn in, marking a transformative shift in leadership


Your guide to Inauguration Day 2017


“I outworked anybody who ever ran for office,” Trump tells donors


Wealthy donors, once Trump’s punching bags, get VIP treatment at inauguration


Trump’s Washington hotel is hub of inaugural action -- and potential conflicts


Trump's businesses an ethical “minefield” once he takes office?


Time for Trump to talk like a president


“None of us knows what is going to happen”


Reflections on the transfer of power


Trump the unready


Inauguration Protests Held at a Trump Tower and elsewhere


Intercepted Russian communications part of inquiry into Trump associates


Trump nominees make clear plans to sweep away Obama policies


Senate set to confirm two Trump Cabinet nominees today; others will wait


Treasury nominee failed to disclose $100 million in assets


Issues of riches trip up Mnuchin and other nominees


Sanders shows how wrong Price is for HHS


Ross's economic expertise: exploiting tax law


Perry regrets call to close Energy Department


Trump has assembled the worst Cabinet in American history


Trump reportedly plans to end national arts funding


Targeting the arts is the laziest, stupidest way to pretend to cut the budget


Trump’s transition of untruths, exaggerations and flat-out falsehoods


Trump’s lies vs. your brain


Trump could smash the old world order -- and replace it with what?


Trump’s tirades against free trade are hurting Latin America, bad for the U.S.


A presidency remembered for tearing down walls of injustice


Obama shouldn’t go quietly


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