Today's news -- September 21, 2017





Wakulla joins suit against state *

The Wakulla County School Board voted Monday night to join school districts across Florida in a legal challenge to House Bill 7069, a controversial education-conforming law that critics say will undermine local control and expand the charter school system. Thirteen other school districts are suing over the law. After hearing the opinion of Superintendent Bobby Pearce, who supported joining in the lawsuit, the five school board members stated their opinions, which ranged from you have to fight back when confronted with a bully to this fight will go on without us, better to spend our money on something other than schools. In an age where every disagreement seems to resort to name-calling, the decorum was remarkable as the school board members quietly listened to each other and expressed respect for differing opinions. Board member Greg Thomas closed the discussion with comments that he respected fellow board members with different views and believed that all were acting from a sincere belief in doing what is best for the students of Wakulla County. Pearce said that Wakulla is being asked to commit to $10,000 in legal fees against the controversial law. Other, larger districts have been asked to commit more money. “I don’t want to be on the outside watching the game,” Pearce said. “I want to be part of the game.” All board members agreed that the education law is bad, that it gives a preference to charter schools over public schools, including getting into the capital outlay funds of districts. All believed it was a poke in the eye to local districts from the Legislature. “I think it’s unconstitutional to take your tax dollars and send it out to a charter school,” said School Board Chair Becky Cook. An example given was of a charter school in Bay County that doesn’t meet the local building code that the district will inherit if the charter school fails, along with all the liability of owning the building. Board member Verna Brock said that it is public schools that made America great. She believed the law is an attack on public education. “Charter schools,” she said, “I don’t feel are held to the same standards as public schools; charter schools are not held to the same rigor as public schools. ... I cannot stand by and let other people fight the fight.” Board member Joann Daniels said she felt that districts are being attacked by the legislature, which does not listen to school administrators. “They see us as somebody you can kick to the side,” she said, adding that she wanted to “stand up for our kids and our classrooms.”


State submits its Every Student Succeeds Act plan *

After months of planning and feedback, the Florida Department of Education submitted its federal Every Student Succeeds Act accountability plan on Wednesday. The plan had been due Monday, but the state won an extension because of Hurricane Irma. Originally, the department had intended to request waivers relating to percentages of students tested, assessment exemptions for English learners and the use of demographic subgroups to differentiate accountability. "Florida is ahead of most of the nation in our policies that feed into the ESSA State Plan," Commissioner Pam Stewart told superintendents in a May memo. "We will seek the opportunity where necessary to request waivers and continue current practice where we believe as a group it is best for Florida." In August, a coalition of civil rights organizations urged the state to reconsider its plan, taking into account the needs of the poorest and most needy children. In its final version, the department did not pursue the waivers. It explained on its website that officials "reevaluated the need for separate waiver requests at this time, describing within the state plan the current accountability system and rationale for why it is best for Florida's students to continue on this path." Changes it listed as being made since first publishing the draft plan included:

• Will use state, district, and school report cards as part of accountability system to provide information to the public about subgroup performance.
• Increased the reporting period for former ELLs from two years to four years.
• Established long-term goals for ELLs on the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 English Language Proficiency assessment.
• Clarified and added more specificity to the Title IV, Part A section on allowable use of funds for new Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants.

Read the full document for more details.,amp.html


Why teachers are suing the state over its bonus program (Joanne McCall quoted)


Permanent pay raises key for future success, Pasco school officials argue (Jim Ciadella quoted)


Bay school leaders discuss recording teachers in class (Alexis Underwood quoted)


We’ve been told that Holly Hummell-Gorman from Monroe will be interviewed today between 1:30 and 2 p.m. on Union Edge radio.


Stop scapegoating teachers and public schools


Public schools offer shelter from the storm


Who’s looking out for rural schools? (Lily Eskelsen García quoted)


What should we pay teachers?


Illinois: ALEC slips vouchers into school funding bill


Government watchdog blasts Education Department’s financial oversight of colleges


Florida politicians talk tough after the hurricane. But it’s just that … talk


Nursing home owner challenges state's move to block patients, payments


Nursing homes, used to soft touch from Scott, find themselves in new situation


When elders are in peril, whom do you call — 911 or Scott’s cell?


Scott should keep demanding better for seniors in nursing homes


Scott's superstorm


Power is back on in Florida, but utilities still under fire


South Floridians without internet and cellular service can’t get answers


Residents along St. Johns River still dealing with flooding


Hurricane victims could face fight between insurers, contractors


FEMA opens hurricane disaster recovery center in South Florida


Hurricane took your job? State offers another short-term solution


Washed-out farms show limits of crop insurance reach


State's citrus industry looks for federal aid after hurricane


About 50 Florida state parks still closed by hurricane


In low-key Jacksonville visit, Ryan tours damage then leaves, taking no questions


How the slightest shift kept hurricane from turning into an even worse disaster


Continued denial leaves state in climate change crosshairs


Hurricane Maria churns on as Puerto Rico takes stock of an “island destroyed”


Puerto Rico entirely without power as hurricane hammers island


Puerto Ricans in Orlando struggle to reach loved ones on the island


Rubio, Nelson urge Trump administration to help Puerto Rico


Dominica “in daze” after storm leaves island cut off from world


Death toll rises as hurricane swamps Caribbean


Nonprofit files records request for info about state online voter registration


Let’s not give up on a guaranteed basic income before we’ve tried


Mueller seeks White House documents on Trump’s actions as president


Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire “private briefings” on 2016 campaign


Manafort used Trump campaign account to email Ukrainian operative


Manafort working on Kurdish referendum opposed by U.S.


Russians appeared to use Facebook to push Trump rallies in 17 cities


Trump's sloppy handling of his Russia problem is coming back to bite him


Who is Felix Sater, and why is Trump so afraid of him?


Senate plans healthcare vote next week as Obama condemns repeal effort


Obama says repealing the ACA would inflict “real human suffering” on Americans


Left on “full war footing” to stop Obamacare repeal


Kimmel fires back at Cassidy over Obamacare repeal bill


Insurers come out swinging against new Republican health care bill


GOP health bill would end guarantee that sick people won’t pay more


The unlikely group who brought Obamacare repeal back to life


The staggering hypocrisy of Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham


Ready to deal this time? Alaska’s Murkowski is in the health-care spotlight. Again.


Koch network “piggy banks” closed until Republicans pass health and tax reform


Coverage losses by state under the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal the ACA


Latest Obamacare repeal plan cuts $17 billion from state's Medicaid funding


Trump blocks woman with stage 4 cancer on Twitter after she criticized health plan


Rubio appears likely to support last-ditch Obamacare repeal effort


Tax cuts for the rich by another name


Voter fraud? A Trump nominee looks like he cast an illegal ballot


Farr’s nomination is Trump’s newest attack on the right to vote


The White House’s preposterous policy analysis on refugees


“They will have to come through us,” NEA president tells “Dreamers” (Lily Eskelsen García quoted)


Border patrol arrests parents while infant awaits serious operation


Fear of being deported turns immigrant hurricane victims to churches for help


California sues to block Trump's border wall


Trump judicial nominee said transgender children are part of “Satan's plan”


Police officers are bypassing juries to face judges


Price blasted government use of private jets, now regularly uses them


Democrats request inspector general investigate Price's use of charter planes


At EPA, guarding the chief pulls agents from pursuing environmental crimes


EPA nominee accepted fees for panning studies critical of clients’ products


Taxpayer dollars, not polluters, fund most costs at Superfund sites


Senator calls out numerous factual errors in Trump’s national monuments report


Let’s stop government giveaways to corporations


Why didn’t Equifax protect your data? Because corporations have all the power.


Another security breach, and everyone shrugs


Get rid of Equifax


Yellen: Wells Fargo’s conduct has been “unacceptable”


Trump shows “America First” is utterly incoherent


Trump's promise to “totally destroy North Korea” creates confusion throughout Asia




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