Today's news -- October 5, 2017



Survey: Confidence in public schools is growing *

It’s well-known that the American people generally have a more favorable opinion of institutions when viewed through a local, as opposed to a state or national, prism. Public schools are no exception. Most individuals give their neighborhood schools high marks but have a more negative assessment of the nation’s schools overall. A couple of recent polls reveal this dynamic, with one suggesting the gap in perceptions may be narrowing. According to the recent PDK International survey, the percentage of Americans who give their community’s public schools an ‘A’ is at its highest in more than 40 years of PDK polling. Sixty-two percent of public school parents give public schools in their own communities an A or B grade (The percentage dips to 45 percent with nonparents). When parents grade their own child’s school, grades improve even more, to 71 percent. But the PDK poll also found that only 24 percent give public schools nationally the same grade. “The 25-point gap between ratings of schools in one’s own community and schools nationally is consistent with more than three decades of PDK poll results,” the report noted. “Awareness of a few poor schools can diminish the ratings of all schools together, driving down scores nationally while leaving local scores far better.” New Gallup surveys also reveal a gap in local and national perceptions of public schools. Nearly half of U.S. adults (47 percent) said they are completely or somewhat satisfied with the quality of education for K-12 students -- although that’s a jump of four percentage points from 2016. When parents were asked about their child’s education specifically, 79 percent said they are completely or somewhat satisfied, with only 21 percent saying they are not. Another recent Gallup poll revealed that 39 percent of the public has “confidence” in the nation’s public schools, which represents an improvement over 2016, when only 30 percent expressed confidence in the system -- the largest year-over-year positive change for schools in Gallup’s survey. What explains the uptick in these results? The Gallup report noted that numbers for both Democrats and Republicans increased in both surveys (a bigger jump among Republicans, however), so perhaps it can be attributed in part by general optimism on the part of GOP voters since the 2016 election. But other factors are also in play. Gallup suggests that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the bipartisan measure signed into law by President Obama in December 2015 that replaces the widely unpopular No Child Left Behind, is also having an effect. ESSA reduces the amount of federally mandated testing and ensures that educators are part of decisions about teaching and learning. In addition, the nation’s high graduation rate and declining dropout rate could also be playing a role in boosting the public’s view of the nation’s schools. Nonetheless, the persistent media coverage of charter schools and voucher proposals, according to the Gallup report, “may contribute to a more negative view of the U.S. education landscape, while parents tend to see their own school’s influence at home and view its effects more approvingly.” In fact, very little coverage is devoted to the issue that the majority of Americans consistently cite as the biggest problem facing schools: lack of funding, according to the PDK survey. Concerns over funding cut across socioeconomic groups, including those who give their neighborhood schools higher marks. “Funding is not a problem exclusive to less well-regarded schools,” the PDK report noted. “Twenty percent of those who give A grades to schools in their community cite funding as a top problem, as do 26 percent of those who give B’s and 23 percent of those who give their schools C’s and D’s.”


Court overturns state board on charter schools

Pointing to similar cases in other parts of Florida, an appeals court Wednesday overturned a decision by the State Board of Education that would have cleared the way for two charter schools in Indian River County. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal was a victory for the Indian River County School Board, which in 2015 denied two charter-school applications filed by Somerset Academy, Inc. Backers of the charter schools took the issue to the State Board of Education, which rejected the decision of the Indian River board and said Somerset Academy should be allowed to move forward with the schools. Wednesday’s ruling by the appeals court said the Indian River board had “clear and convincing evidence” on a series of issues that supported the denial of the proposed charter schools. As an example, the appeals court said the Indian River board showed that the applications failed to meet financial requirements included in state law. “The School Board painstakingly pointed out how Somerset’s applications patently showed that Somerset’s intended budget was financially unrealistic and untenable,” said the 10-page ruling.


Pinellas teachers OK bargaining agreement, new starting salary (Mike Gandolfo quoted, PESPA and USEP mentioned)


Miami school district will request delay to state testing due to hurricane


Lee School Board asks for state testing delays, flexibility


Duval schools officials warn test changes could drop graduation rates


State school districts filing lawsuits against charter school legislation


Teaching about Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria


Wisconsin shows how vouchers can exacerbate funding disparities in public schools


DeVos keeps higher ed -- and reporters -- at arm’s length


We need to rise up, not retreat, to meet challenges


Survey says Floridians feeling financial stress


Constitution commission considers voting rights for NPAs, ex-felons


CRC's education panel to meet today


Yes, Florida's pool of voters is shrinking. Here's why.


Feeling allergy symptoms? Blame Hurricane Irma, some doctors say


Trump orders feds to pay more to help Florida cities, counties pay for debris


Debris left behind by hurricane could make for active brush fire season, officials say


Hurricane caused an estimated $2.5 billion in state agriculture losses


After hurricane, pummeled Everglades shows signs of resilience


It’s time for tourists to come back to the Keys, Scott says during visit


Pence to visit Orlando today


Zinke to visit state, Lake Okeechobee


State expects to file long-overdue reimbursement appeals to FEMA shortly


It’s going to get wet as Florida faces tropical peril on both coasts


White House dials back Trump’s vow to clear Puerto Rico’s debt


Critical Puerto Rico infrastructure contractor lacks history of results


White House asks Congress for $29 billion in hurricane aid


Hurricane damage in Puerto Rico leads to fears of drug shortages nationwide


Scott says Florida’s ready to help Puerto Rico, but critics see little action so far


Second Jacksonville event for Puerto Rican hurricane relief set for Saturday


Polk congressman urges more relief for Puerto Rico


Jeb Bush criticizes Trump on Puerto Rico


Filmed near Disney, “Florida Project” shines light on hidden homeless


Life, liberty and the PSC


Don't wait forever to heed voters' will on conservation amendment


With Janus, corporate interests launch another attack on workers (Lily Eskelsen García quoted)


Gerrymandering is almost as old as the nation, but it's never too late to rein it in


Senate Intelligence heads warn that Russian election meddling continues


Congress to Trump, basically: Russia is not fake news


The Senate’s Russia probe is still far from over


Furious Republicans are working hard to make Trump’s Russia scandal disappear


How Russia’s fake social media accounts propelled Trump


Tax cut for the rich, huge debt to you


How we think about the deficit is mostly wrong


Pressured on tax cuts, Democrats see little reason to deal


Bill to rescue children’s health program hits snag in House


CHIP falls, jeopardizing health for 342,000 kids in Florida


“All I want to do is teach and help my kids,” says DACA teacher (Lily Eskelsen García quoted)


Bipartisan Senate group unveils latest attempt at sentencing overhaul


They thought they were going to rehab. They ended up in chicken plants.


Trump takes a first step toward scrapping Obama’s global warming policy


Court orders Trump administration reinstate Obama emissions rule


Three Trump Cabinet members attended mining lobbyist meeting at Trump hotel


The worst part about Pruitt’s schedule isn’t his meetings with industry


Notes from closed meeting show how Interior aims to weaken environmental laws


Interior rejects 25 endangered species petitions, some linked to climate change


How Politico found Price’s private jets


Interior secretary draws flak for mixing politics, official travel


IRS defends Equifax contract amid Hill outcry


Trump’s secretary of state reaffirms support for president


Tillerson makes nice but may not last long with Trump


Liberal groups got IRS scrutiny, too, inspector general suggests


Angry GOP donors close their wallets




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