Today's news -- September 22, 2017





A little more on Florida's ESSA plan

After Florida submitted its ESSA plan late Wednesday, it quickly became clear that the waivers the state Department of Education planned to seek were no longer there. A closer read of the final version, though, reveals that while the state did not request any formal waiver of the rules, its plan to work around those rules still exists. The ideas are instead woven into the general application. The proposal continues to make provisions to not use native-language proficiency tests for English learners. It would still report subgroup performance, including the addition of English learners, but base the school grade on all students, rather than separate groups. "By bringing all subgroups together into the lowest-performing 25%, Florida schools and LEAs focus on the students in each of these subgroups most in need of assistance," the plan states. "In addition, using the lowest-performing 25% avoids the double and triple counting of students that fall into multiple subgroups." It also retains plans to use some middle school students' math exam scores in reporting high school results, if they are taking advanced courses rather than grade-level material. Florida recently stopped the practice of double-testing middle schoolers in algebra and geometry courses. "By including the end-of-course (EOC) assessment results of middle school students taking high school mathematics courses in the school grades system, Florida's accountability system motivates school districts to encourage capable students to accelerate their education by taking high school classes before entering high school," according to the plan. In most ways, Florida's ESSA plan seeks to maintain its existing test-based accountability system, with few changes. That should come as little surprise, as commissioner Pam Stewart has made clear for years the state's intention of staying its course. Department officials said they decided that using the federal application template, rather than pursuing waivers, should be the path to pursue toward approval. "We are confident that our plan will be the best approach for our students as well as aligning with the law," deputy communications director Cheryl Etters said via email. Asked why the state sent in the changed proposal without seeking another round of public comment, Etters wrote that the state collected plenty of input over time. "We had two public input windows - last summer and this summer," she noted. "During the first window, the public was asked to provide input on the law generally. Then, this summer, we requested input on the DOE draft plan. As the website states, in addition to the comments we received through the online survey, DOE received input through outreach efforts to educator associations and stakeholder groups, and the commissioner convened a superintendents' workgroup to provide input on major decision points." Rosa Castro-Feinberg, a leading civil rights activist and former Miami-Dade School Board member, said she found the changes within the plan not to be positive. "Reporting results is not the same as including those results in the accountability system," she said. "Instead of asking for permission to waive statutory requirements, the state plan submitted on Wednesday assumes permission to ignore portions of the law have been granted." The plan now heads to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for consideration.


Joanne McCall on MidPoint with WMNF News Thursday


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Clay helps employees affected by hurricane (CCEA mentioned)


Officials seek to bridge “opportunity gap” in Flagler schools (FEA mentioned)


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NAEP says it assesses critical thinking in history — but gets an F on that score


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Ex-Obama education officials launch legal aid group to challenge DeVos


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Inspector general wants to pull student aid from online university


Experts cast doubt on widely cited college free speech survey


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Tenth Hollywood nursing home patient dies


Nursing home victims had body temperatures up to 109.9


Nursing home might not face criminal charges, despite 10 deaths


State hides details in nursing home inspection reports, but federal agencies don’t


Hurricane Irma wind damages pegged at more than $19 billion


Most of hurricane’s billions in damage will be paid by homeowners, study says


Unemployment claims double in state after hurricane


Trump wants to eliminate program that oversees long-term hurricane relief


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Hurricane roughs up endangered snail kites that help us gauge Everglades' health


How big was the storm surge?


Before hurricane struck, lawmakers blithely sabotaged state building code,amp.html


Puerto Rico faces mountain of obstacles on the road to recovery


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Prospects for trump’s goal to privatize air traffic control appear slim


The economic costs of domestic violence


Facebook to turn over Russian-Linked ads to Congress


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Another potential Mueller honey pot: Spicer's notebooks


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Russian connections behind Trump rallies in Florida, report says


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Last-ditch Obamacare repeal bill has “worst elements” of earlier plans


AARP releases another devastating analysis of the GOP’s repeal and replace plan


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Senator Cassidy, please stop lying about health care


Cruelty, incompetence and lies


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How many with preexisting conditions would be priced out under Cassidy-Graham?


GOP health care bill will make it harder for rural hospitals to keep their doors open


Graham-Cassidy would start banning abortion coverage in three months


GOP bill forces states to build health systems from scratch


Trump publicly backs healthcare effort, privately harbors doubts


Kimmel tells viewers: “We have until September 30” to stop GOP health bill


Don't do it, Senator Rubio. Don't back bad health care bill.


Castor: Graham-Cassidy health care bill would “devastate” Florida families


White House plan for tax cuts moves forward


White House seen softening trade stance as tax reform fight approaches


Federal employees ordered to attend anti-leaking classes


St. Louis is what happens when the Justice Department won’t do its job


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Wall Street’s watchdog fails to follow its own counsel on disclosing cyberattacks


Price traveled by private plane at least 24 times


Price's trip to Florida raises new questions about spending


Trump hires campaign workers instead of farm experts at USDA


Trump aides begin looking for the exits


Trump poised to drop some limits on drone strikes and commando raids




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