Today's news -- November 28, 2017





Judge refuses to dismiss Best and Brightest lawsuit *

A federal judge has rejected arguments by the Florida Department of Education that he should dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state's controversial “Best and Brightest” teacher-bonus program. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued an order last week turning down a motion for dismissal of the lawsuit, which was filed in September by the Florida Education Association teachers union. The lawsuit alleges that the program discriminates against older teachers and minorities because it uses teacher performances on ACT and SAT college-entrance exams to help determine eligibility for the bonuses. The union filed the lawsuit against the Department of Education and school boards throughout the state. The Department of Education on November 1 filed a motion for dismissal, arguing in part that it does not have an “employment relationship” with the teachers, who work for school districts. But Hinkle ruled that the case should move forward. “Here the complaint is sufficient,” he wrote. “It alleges not only that the department is an employer of the teachers who suffer discrimination based on age and race, but also that the department administers the best-and-brightest program that is responsible for the discrimination. These allegations may or may not be true, but they are not implausible, and the truth of the allegations cannot properly be resolved on a motion to dismiss. A state agency can be held liable when it has a sufficient role in administering a discriminatory program and disbursing funds for payment to public employees --- even when the recipients are directly employed not by the state agency but by a political subdivision.”


Scott visits Tampa school to push his education plan


Hillsborough teachers to protest pay by shunning extra tasks this week (Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins quoted)


ABC’s of working the contract (Valerie Chuchman and Joseph Cool quoted)


Where is the legislative accountability for their votes? (by Mark Castellano)


Duval student suspensions increased last year, along with racial disparities


DeVos returns to Southwest Florida to highlight school choice


CRC panel OKs education proposals, holds off on another

Proposals to limit Florida school board members to two four-year terms, and to end the election of district superintendents, won strong support Monday from the state's Constitution Revision Commission Education Committee — their first stop on the path to the 2018 ballot. But a third amendment recommendation from commissioner Erika Donalds, to end the salaries for all school board members, proved a step too far for the panel. That measure was poised for defeat, with four members opposed, but instead was postponed on a technicality after staff forgot to ask Donalds for her vote. Now the Collier County School Board member is contemplating whether to offer amendments to resolve her fellow commissioners' concerns, or to withdraw the proposal altogether. "I haven't decided," Donalds said. She promoted the trio of ideas as a way to overhaul school district governance so that board positions are not seen as a career, while the superintendent job is considered more as a profession than a political post. Board members should not serve for decades, becoming creatures of the institution rather than public servants, she suggested. Meanwhile, Donalds added, superintendents need to be viewed as chief executives, with higher qualifications than being registered voters in their districts and having no disqualifying criminal background. She called her ideas "best practices." The term limits proposal gained unanimous committee support, and the superintendent appointment had just one dissenting vote, despite some public comment that the two moves would reduce local control of the government. Commissioners generally agreed with the concept that a school board seat should not become a career, while the superintendent job should be one. As state education commissioner Pam Stewart, who sits on the Constitution Revision Commission, put it, the superintendency "is in fact a career and should be treated as such. As much as of the politics as can be taken out of it … should be taken away from the office." With those two amendments tackled, the committee turned to the pay proposal. Donalds called Florida an extreme outlier in providing salaries to board members, whose posts are volunteer in most other states. Several members of the public criticized the idea as "elitist," though, and suggested that financial independence should not become a criterion for serving on the school board. Florida school boards are different from those in other states, Florida School Boards Association executive director Andrea Messina added, because they are independent local governments with taxing authority. Opponents contended that such a move, in combination with the other proposals, would negatively alter the diversity of the people able to seek and hold the elected government office. "We need to consider people from all walks of life," said Marie-Claire Leman, representing the parent activist group Common Ground. That message resonated with several of the commission members. Committee vice chairwoman Nicole Washington, Miami Beach education consultant, observed that her own peers on various boards have often said they cannot afford to volunteer for causes they would otherwise support. "If we want to encourage diversity," she said, "this would limit it. … I know it would from my pool of colleagues." She suggested finding other ways to reform board pay, if necessary, through the legislative process. Commissioner Darlene Jordan, a member of the Board of Governors from Palm Beach County, shared that view, adding her concern that smaller counties particularly could suffer a lack of participation if the pay were eliminated. That amendment did not gain a majority vote, and was withheld on a technicality. Its future remains in limbo. The two proposals viewed favorably, meanwhile, next head to the commission's Local Government committee, which Donalds chairs. The committee also heard lengthy reports on the class size amendment and the use of state funds for religious schools. It has proposals on those issues coming forward in future meetings.


The three worst proposals from the Constitution Revision Commission


Why it’s a big problem that so many teachers quit *

Arkansas legislators voted unanimously this month to study exactly why nearly 40 percent of teachers in the state leave the classroom after five years. In South Carolina, the Clemson University Board of Trustees approved initial plans for the state’s first university-led teacher residency program in part to address the problem of teacher attrition. These are just two of many places around the country where teacher turnover is a serious problem — and in some places, it’s getting worse. This post is a deep, definitive dive into teacher attrition and what can be done about it. It was written by Linda Darling-Hammond, Leib Sutcher and Desiree Carver-Thomas, all of the Learning Policy Institute, which conducts independent, high-quality research to improve education policy and practice.


Report addressing gaps in access to strong teachers misses opportunity


Graduate teaching assistants concerned about tax reform (Mary Roca quoted)


Construction freeze could hamper UCF plans


White racism course causes controversy at FGCU just as it did at UConn in 1990s


Taxing college endowments will hurt red-state kids more than coastal elites


State paid millions settling harassment cases


Congress must help Haitians being forced out of U.S. by Trump


Florida’s anti-sanctuary city bill would be bad for Florida


After a brutal hurricane season, there’s a silver lining: better forecasts


DEP secretary rejects judge's recommendation, denies Everglades oil drilling permit


Senators scramble to advance tax bill that increasingly rewards wealthy


Wages really are rising too slowly. But corporate tax cuts won’t help.


Why are Republicans in a rush to pass tax reform? To outrun the truth.


The biggest tax scam in history


The four big tax deceptions


The GOP tax bill just keeps looking worse


Trump faces make-or-break meeting with congressional leaders


Trump to visit Missouri on Wednesday to promote tax overhaul


Tax-Hike fears trigger talk of exodus from Manhattan and Greenwich


Choice and the insurance mandate


Odds are, Russia owns Trump


Florida lawmaker’s former company used Manafort to pitch Russian technology


Trump’s nominations would put a lot of white men on federal courts


Supreme Court cellphone case puts free speech – not just privacy – at risk


Confusion and chaos engulf consumer agency


Trump’s bureaucratic showdown


Leadership fight won’t stop consumer agency’s inevitable gutting


Pruitt on a mission to change the culture of the EPA


On trade, Trump puts corporate America first


Dismantling the Foreign Service


Trump again derides Warren as “Pocahontas,” at event honoring Navajo veterans


We will all pay a price for Trump’s nihilism


Conway violated the Hatch Act. Will she be charged?




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