Most of the victims of the Newtown school massacre were just like Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy's daughter: seven-year-old first graders at a public school.
"If a similar tragedy were visited upon me and my family, I would be beside myself," he says. "But I think one of my ways of healing would be attempting to find out what went wrong, where was the failure."
But trying to start a public discussion of the public's small hope of ever finding out what went wrong has been costly.
The State Board of Educations recently permitted many changes that paved the way for higher grades to label Florida's high schools with.
According to State Impact, "The board lowered the passing grade on the state writing test, suspended the penalty for schools whose lowest-performing students did not improve their scores and only allowed school grades to drop by a maximum of one letter."
The series on remedial education at Florida’s colleges by NPR’s StateImpact Florida and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting has prompted lots of conversations: Why are so many high school graduates needing remediation in college? Should a high school diploma be a certificate of college readiness -- perhaps only for some students.
We chatted online with StateImpact’s Sarah Gonzalez and FCIR’s Mc Nelly Torres along with a social media audience of students, educators and people interested in education policy.
Elle Moxley's radio profile of Tony Bennett for StateImpact Florida.
Before he was voted out of the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in Indiana -- and well before he was appointed Florida Commissioner of Education -- Tony Bennett pushed for a controversial package of education initiatives that brought Indiana to the forefront of a national conversation about how to transform public schools.
And it all began with a restaurant conversation between Bennett and Indiana Board of Education member Todd Huston, who was urging him to run for superintendent.
Florida's next public university could be Online U.
Depending on how the Florida Board of Governors reconciles several issues with expert recommendations, the Legislature may be asked next year to establish the 13th state university for Internet students only.
Throughout the Great Recession, laid-off workers have been trying to improve their re-employment prospects with college training.
But, once they enroll at their local community colleges, many are finding that that their math, reading and writing skills have atrophied so much they can't continue at the college level without remedial classes.
By Sarah Gonzalez and McNelly Torres and Lynn Waddell
Wendy Pedroso has never liked math, but for most of elementary school and middle school she got B’s in the subject. It wasn’t until ninth grade at Miami Southwest Senior High School, when Pedroso took algebra, that she hit a wall. In particular, she struggled with understanding fractions.
“I kept getting stuck in the same place,” Pedroso, 20, recalled recently. She failed the class, and worried that she’d never get to go to college. Pedroso sought help from tutors, took algebra again over the summer and passed. She went on to graduate from high school in 2011.
English teacher Vallet Tucker teaches 10th grade honors students. She says she's not surprised that more than half the students who took Florida's college placement exam in the 2010-2011 school year failed at least one subject.
The series on remedial education exposed what some in the public school system at the secondary and college level already knew: that many students are graduating from high school unprepared for college.
Florida has chosen a follower of Jeb Bush education theory from Indiana to be its next education commissioner.
Tony Bennett is serving out his term as Indiana's superintendent of public instruction after a re-election defeat. In Florida, he'll replace Gerard Robinson, who resigned months ago after only a year in office.