Today's news -- September 15, 2017





FEA files lawsuit challenging Best and Brightest bonus *

Florida's Best and Brightest teacher bonus, based in part on educators' long-ago SAT scores, has had critics from its inception in 2015. Not the least among them was the Florida Education Association, which filed a federal complaint against the program shortly after its implementation. This week, the FEA brought its complaint to federal court, alleging the recently expanded system discriminates against teachers of a certain age and race. "This bonus program is a ridiculous example of bad lawmaking," FEA President Joanne McCall said. "Instead of properly compensating the best teachers in the state, this program awards bonuses based in large part on the scores they received on their college entrance exams. Many teachers in Florida today did not even take a college entrance exam if they started their college career in the state's community college system." From the outset, teachers have raised such concerns, to little response from lawmakers who sought to expand the system as part of their performance pay initiative. The named plaintiffs in the case filed this week against all 67 school districts and the state Department of Education claim they were denied the bonus despite being rated "highly effective" in their evaluations. They say they were denied the bonus based strictly on test scores. The FEA alleges that the program discriminates because teachers who took the ACT or SAT before 1972 cannot get scores, disqualifying them. Also, first-year teachers are exempt from earning a "highly effective" evaluation, and most first-year teachers are younger than 40. "A bonus based upon a high school test score, likely taken at 17 or 18, will not help our students have access to great teachers," McCall said. Read the full complaint for more details. (Joanne McCall quoted) (Joanne McCall mentioned)

Why weren't charters used as shelters during hurricane? *

Traditional county public schools across the Tampa Bay region and Florida are cleaning up after sheltering thousands of residents and their pets who sought safety from Hurricane Irma. Charter schools did not open their doors for the storm. Many of our readers took note. And they weren't too happy about it. Alan Pentarin posted on the Gradebook Facebook page: "Challenge to the reporters tied to this site. The traditional schools built to a higher standard served as places of shelter and security. What do the STATE LEADERS (legislators-governor not DOE talking heads) have to show how charter schools served the public better during the hurricane. How can they justify the diversion of capital outlay funds to maintain/pay for buildings that did not serve the public. Remember those rules that the charters get to ignore are creates by those sane legislators." The item quickly generated dozens of "Likes," along with added commentary both praising the school systems for their dedication, and criticizing the use of state money on charter schools. They observed that the state is now forcing school districts to share local tax money with charters, and at the same time reducing some building code requirements for the charters. "Please dig into this issue. The public needs to know ....while the aftermath of this hurricane is still fresh in our minds," Amy Lee wrote. The answer is simple. And it's likely to please few, as the same lawmakers that are getting bashed created the rules that make charters unlikely candidates for shelter use. Bottom line, state law does not require charters to meet traditional school construction guidelines for hurricane protections.


Pinellas to vote Tuesday on whether to join lawsuit against education bill


Lake students back to school Tuesday, other Orlando-area districts to start Monday


Seminole schools announce storm make-up days


Lee schools won't open until September 25


South Florida public schools distribute food


Lawmaker proposes higher threshold for off-cycle tax referenda


Give state students national tests for better comparison


Teachers paid less than other professionals, report finds *

How does the United States value its teachers? It pays them, on average, nearly 60 percent less than other professionals with similar education levels, according to a newly released 456-page annual report on education around the world. The 2017 Education at a Glance report, issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, looks at education data in its 35 member countries — including the United States, Canada, Chile, Australia and many of the Western European countries — as well as in some partner countries, such as the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Brazil, China, India and Indonesia. The good news: The report finds that since 2000, the overall workforce in these countries has become better educated. At the turn of the millennium, the majority of young adults had reached high school as their highest education level, but today the largest share of those ages 25 to 34 have a college degree. In the United States, it said, 46 percent of people in that same age group are college-educated. That’s the largest percentage in the OECD, although the gap has been shrinking; in 2000, the gap was 12 percentage points but it shrunk to 4 percent in 2016 as other countries began to catch up. The study notes that “teachers are the backbone of the education system,” but that their salaries have decreased on average in OECD countries, making the profession “increasingly unattractive to young students.” The economic crisis of 2007-08 affected teacher pay, the report said; between 2005 and 2015, salaries of teachers decreased in real terms in one-third of the countries with available data. In the United States, the report said, starting teachers earn more than in the other included countries — about $42,500 in elementary school compared with the OECD average of $31,000. But American teachers earn nearly 60 percent less than other professionals with similar education levels, “the lowest relative earnings across all OECD countries with data,” it said. Teachers’ actual salaries (including bonuses and allowances) remain below the average salaries of similarly educated full-time, full-year workers. And American teachers work longer hours than counterparts in other researched countries, it said. Middle-school teachers are required to work 1,366 hours per year at school — which doesn’t include the time they spend outside of school on their work — compared with the OECD average of 1,135 hours, and their net teaching time amounts to 981 hours compared with the OECD average of 712 hours.


The theory and practice of school closures


The hostile takeover of teacher training


Hurricane Irma’s official death toll rises to 26 in Florida


Nursing home to fight state ban on new admissions following eight deaths


After Wilma, bills sought to ensure nursing homes had emergency AC were killed.


Seniors group calls on Feds to investigate nursing home deaths


Trump administration called out for making it harder to sue nursing homes


No Floridian should survive hurricane, die in heat


Everglades City residents struggle with housing, plumbing problems


Blocked from home after Irma, Keys residents vow not to evacuate next time


After hurricane, food insecurity in Miami-Dade's poorest communities


State freezes insurance rate hikes and cancellations during hurricane recovery


Hurricane's rains will mean more mosquitoes


Sewage spills add to misery


Other storms on the horizon, so saturated state tries to make room for more water


State agriculture losses widespread, billions in damage


Dealer faces fines, jail time after parking cars in public garage during Irma


Organize Florida partners with local groups on recovery fund


Hurricane no boon to state budget


Disney labor unions ask theme park to pay lost wages after hurricane


For those in the service sector, hurricane hits especially hard: expense and no pay


Why the secrecy at the hurricane command post?


Why do Floridians keep telling ourselves we can beat nature? (by Diane Roberts)


Frazzled Floridians in search of a balm


Why extreme deadly hurricanes, heat waves and wildfires are here to stay


Irma doesn’t persuade Trump on climate change: “We’ve had bigger storms”


Scott remains unsure about climate change after hurricane


Now is exactly the time to have that discussion about climate change


Trump meets Irma victims as Naples mayor calls for action not words


20 people now own as much wealth as half of all Americans


Trump’s push for U.S. jobs may spur boom in “corporate welfare”


Union power is putting pressure on Silicon Valley’s tech giants


Trump lied about “voter fraud” ... now he wants to steal people's votes


Kobach is the real fraud


Our elections are facing more threats online. Our laws must catch up.


As Mueller probe intensifies, so do Trump attacks on Comey


Trump humiliated Sessions after Mueller appointment


Manafort spokesman to testify before grand jury today


CNN report details how Russia manipulated Fox and Breitbart to help punk voters


Trump confirms support for law to protect “Dreamers”


Trump’s latest tweetstorm signals major concessions may lie ahead


Trump’s DACA deal with Democrats is already a hot mess


Inside Trump's dalliance with Democrats


Pelosi, Schumer face ire from the left over “Dreamers” talks


Conservatives recoil at Trump’s accommodation with Democrats over DACA


Ryan dismisses potential DACA deal between Trump and Democrats


Immigration’s sudden re-emergence scrambles Republican agenda


The White House is against “amnesty,” but won't say what that means


Trump can’t believe anyone could support deporting “Dreamers”. Cue the video.


Federal judge urges Trump administration to push back DACA deadline


Enough DACA drama. Make a deal and stop letting “Dreamers” twist in the wind


Ros-Lehtinen demands straight answer from Trump on “Dreamers”


U.S. Army kills contracts for immigrant recruits. Some face deportation.


If Trump has backed off his border wall, it’s a new day in Washington


Welcoming refugees should be a settled question


Cutting refugee admissions hurts Americans. Here’s how.


Sanders’ Medicare-for-all plan is only a start. But it’s the right start.


CBO: Trump’s approach to ACA will depress enrollment, hike premiums


Florida gets $6.6 million for Obamacare navigators, a drop in funding


Why turning public health care into “block grants” can’t work


Tax overhaul to be unveiled this month may be less than advertised


Divide remains over basic elements of tax reform


Trump is in denial or oblivious about how his tax cut plan would benefit the rich


27 Senate Democrats get behind a big new plan to make child care an entitlement


FTC confirms it's investigating Equifax breach -- a highly unusual comment


U.S. people of color still more likely to be exposed to pollution than white people


Trump may replace Obama's big climate rule -- not just repeal it


EPA will reconsider Obama-era safeguards on coal waste


Trump FEMA nominee withdraws after questions on falsified records


As Houston neighborhoods dry out, residents wonder: Are they worth the risk?


Fire on the mountain: Forests offer clues to Yellowstone’s fate in a warming world


North Korea launches another missile, escalating crisis


Trump signals he will choose approach on Iran that preserves nuclear deal


CIA wants to expand its drone strike authority despite Pentagon concerns


Trump says “a lot of people” appreciated his Charlottesville remarks


When history’s losers write the story


UC-Berkeley braces for protests as conservative writer speaks on campus


Trump finds that campaigning to erase Obama’s legacy is easier than doing so


Zakaria on the most important lesson of the Trump presidency


Ivanka Trump says liberals have “unrealistic expectations” of her


How to make $240,000 in six months by being friends with Perry


Highflying Mnuchins take the country for a ride





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