Today's news -- March 8, 2017






Appeals court overturns ruling on third-grade retention *
A three-judge panel has overturned Leon County judge Karen Gievers' ruling that the Hernando County school district improperly retained some third-grade students who refused to take the Florida Standards Assessment language arts test. The state has required students to pass the test, or receive another good cause exemption, to gain promotion. That provision has been a key plank of Florida's Jeb Bush-era test-based accountability model since the early 2000's. The 1st District Court of Appeal supported the system, saying the testing helps with the "laudable purpose" of determining whether a student needs additional reading instruction. The court also asserted the case should have been filed in the parents' home counties, including Pasco County, as the districts argued. "We reverse the order and vacate the injunction because the school boards were entitled to be sued in their home venues and none of the requirements for injunctive relief was established," the panel wrote. Parents brought their case in the Leon County court, arguing the site was proper because it was where the Department of Education is located. They contended the districts follow department rules regarding testing and promotion. Although the appellate court, which heard arguments in February, did not rule on the merits of the parent arguments regarding test participation, it made clear its disdain for their position. The lawyer for the parents argued that the children should have been able to provide a portfolio of classroom work without taking the state test or an alternate, and still move to fourth grade. The court took issue with that view, as well.


Corcoran wants to boost charter schools

House Speaker Richard Corcoran said Tuesday that his chief budget priority this year is addressing chronically underperforming public schools, likely by spending millions to attract high-performing charter school networks to Florida. “I think the biggest expenditure out of the House that we will engage in is, it’s going to be very expensive to try and figure out a way to end failure factories,” the Land O’Lakes Republican said on the first day of the 2017 session. “The concept that we still have them, the concept that we have kids stuck for five years, some of them, tens of thousands of them, stuck for five years, where you’re just robbing them of that dignity and that future — that’s got to change, and that’s going to be very expensive to do.” Corcoran — who borrowed his “failure factories” rhetoric from a Pulitzer Prize-winning Tampa Bay Times investigative series on five segregated St. Petersburg elementary schools, some of the worst in the state — said the House intends to invest in K-12 schools, as does Gov. Rick Scott, but they don’t necessarily agree on how. “The governor put a bunch of money into public education,” Corcoran said, referring to Scott’s budget proposal, “and we’re going to put a bunch of money into public education. At the end of the day, the argument is going to be how we spend it.” Corcoran has not yet outlined a specific plan for turning around struggling schools. But he has provided clues, saying during recent press conferences the state should consider incentivizing national charter school chains to expand their reach in the state, specifically mentioning KIPP, SEED and Uncommon Schools. Corcoran’s wife, Anne, founded a charter school. Corcoran remains adamantly opposed to paying for an increase in education funding with tax increases, he said Tuesday. Going further, he said he would push for another homestead exemption that would result in more than $700 million of tax relief.


House panel votes to expand, boost voucher funding

Florida’s scholarship programs for students with disabilities and for those from low-income families — state-run initiatives that pay private-school tuition — would be expanded under a proposal a Florida House panel approved Tuesday. The bill (HB 15) would make more children eligible for the Gardiner and McKay Scholarship Programs, which serve youngsters with disabilities, and would increase the per-student funding for the Tax-Credit Scholarship Program, which pays tuition bills for students from poor families. The changes would mean money spent on the Gardiner program would jump from about $73 million this academic year to $200 million next year. The tax-credit scholarships, now worth about $5,886, or about 82 percent of the amount spent per-student in public school, would pay from 88 to 96 percent of that figure, depending on the student’s grade. These voucher programs have been controversial — with one challenged unsuccessfully in court — but they are also strongly supported by the state’s Republican leaders and the families who use them. They view them as needed options for students who cannot get what they need in public school but cannot on their own pay for private school. And they got a boost last week from President Donald Trump, who visited a Catholic school in Orange County where most students use the tax-credit scholarships to help pay their costs.


Diverting school dollars (Joanne McCall mentioned)


Vouchers have their own three R’s


Politifact: Florida teacher pay lags national average, just not quite by $10,000


Polk district, unions to go to mediation Friday (Marianne Capoziello quoted)


Calhoun district and teachers union reach an agreement on tentative pay raise (Russell Baggett quoted)


Broward schools adopt measures to protect students from immigration raids


Polk responds to Soto’s concerns over student immigration inquiries​


State expands review to include Orange alternative schools


Getting liberated from science in “religious liberties” bill


Education policy fights don’t focus enough on teaching and learning


Educators prepare for immigration agents at the schoolhouse


DeVos lobbyist resigns amid controversy over comments about shaking his wife


Teacher: What Pence did to schools and teachers in Indiana


Chance the Rapper donates $1 million to Chicago’s public schools


L.A. charter network sees questionable spending abound


Whatever happened to Scott's idea for $10,000 college degrees?


The troubling appeal of education at for-profit schools


In State of the State, Scott takes Corcoran to task


Corcoran: “Let's fight ... the special interests and the status quo”


Negron adds Stand Your Ground changes, “religious liberties” bill to his priorities


Cruz and Braynon slam quality of Scott’s jobs


Progressives rally all over state to fight Scott, GOP-led Legislature (Rich Templin quoted)


Fort Myers rally calls for focus on Southwest Florida priorities (Mark Castellano quoted)


Events also in Jacksonville and Stuart


Scott, Corcoran focus on wrong issues


Let local government make local decisions


Senate advances bill to weaken citizens’ leverage in records disputes


House gets win in Lottery contract fight


Enterprise Florida tabs Grissom as interim chief


Why Scott's job chief quit suddenly still a mystery


“Moonlight” as reason to keep state incentives for filmmakers


Once a proponent, Ingoglia is now against corporate welfare


Anti-poverty lobbyist skeptical as 2017 legislative session opens


House chairman seeks “good faith” as hearings open on workers’ comp draft bill


State worker pay raise hopes rest in Senate


Legislation that would make secretary of state an elected position advances


The amazing plunge in IRS audits of rich people and large companies


Why women are on strike


Stories from Florida on “a day without a woman”


The problem and promise of political violence in Trump’s America


Trump will decide whether you get overtime pay


Workers are on the frontlines of making sure banks don’t rip us off


Trump’s federal hiring freeze is hitting military families hard


Trump is said to stand by unfounded wiretap claim


Trump aides address his wiretap claims: “That’s above my pay grade”


House chair says he has seen no evidence Obama ordered wiretap of Trump


Trump personally met with Russian ambassador during campaign


Trump campaign approved adviser's trip to Moscow


CIA providing raw intelligence as Trump-Russia probes heat up


Democrats seek special counsel to investigate Russian election interference


Deputy AG pick won't commit to naming special prosecutor for Russia probe,amp.html


Fireworks erupt between Franken and Grassley over Sessions at Senate hearing


Poll: Majority of voters favor special prosecutor


White House counsel's office staffing up team of lawyers


WikiLeaks releases trove of alleged CIA hacking documents


After loving WikiLeaks as a candidate, Trump decides he doesn’t like leaks now


How wiretaps actually work — and what’s really going on here


A look inside the country’s real-life spy thriller


Millions risk losing health insurance in Republican plan, analysts say


Replacement healthcare plan would cost poor and older people the most (Lily Eskelsen García quoted) (Randi Weingarten quoted)

GOP health bill faces revolt from conservative forces


Trump tries to quash conservative uproar over health care bill


The Republican health-care plan’s top critics? Republicans.


GOP changes to Medicaid could have larger impact


Medicaid spending caps in GOP health plan could be costly for Florida, experts say


How Republicans plan to ration health care


The House Republicans’ health-care bill is a thicket of bad incentives


The health care industry really doesn’t like GOP’s Obamacare replacement


GOP slams budget scorekeeper as repeal bill moves forward


No wonder the Republicans hid the health bill


The Republican health care bill is the worst of so many worlds


An Obamacare repeal that’s both heartless and reckless


GOP is walking into an Obamacare minefield


Trumpcare breaks every promise Trump made about healthcare


Trump’s health secretary claims Medicaid takes away people’s health care


Chaffetz revives the “poverty is a choice” argument


Pelosi battles GOP to save Obamacare — and her legacy


Castor calls new GOP House health care plan “Robin Hood in reverse”


Scott sets off for D.C. to meet with GOP leaders on ACA overhaul


Stop the grandstanding on Planned Parenthood


An insipid GOP attack line just got worse


Hawaii plans to sue to block new Trump travel ban


Trump’s new ban leaves few spots for refugees, even the hunted


Deportation dread: South Florida migrant workers feel “more hunted than usual”


Trump’s new travel ban as misguided as the old one


Sixth wave of bomb threats strikes Jewish community centers and institutions


Trump is trying to play black Americans


Black people more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder, study shows


The huge January trade deficit shows Trump’s hard job ahead


Activists rrge Democrats to step up resistance to Gorsuch nomination


Democracy requires trust. But Trump is making us all into conspiracy theorists.


Things for which we’re waiting to see Trump’s “convincing evidence”


Ask Trump appointees and allies if they’ll defend freedom of the press


A two-hour virtual conversation between the president and “Fox and Friends”


Fact-check: Trump is wrong about Guantánamo detainees


Trump grants Oval Office meeting to TMZ founder


Trump could lose libel lawsuit if Obama chose to sue


Trump’s attacks on the media are a gift to tyrants everywhere




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