It’s 7:30 a.m. and the fifth through eight graders at Academy Prep in midtown St. Petersburg are lined up outside to recite the school pledge. It’s a cool February morning and they’re a little fidgety until head of school Gina Burkett raises two fingers above her head and all goes quiet.
The pledge starts with “Standing in this room are the greatest, most committed, most responsible people this world has ever known.”
That may sound slightly immodest, but getting these kids to believe they are capable of great things is a big part of the curriculum here.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush defended his record on education at a Tallahassee education summit Tuesday, taking on testing, unions and school choice.
But Bush didn't mention Common Core -- the politically caustic multi-state math and language arts standards for which he has been a chief cheerleader. Bush is a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, and many conservatives worry the standards will mean a loss of local control over what's taught in schools.
The legal and public relations battle over Florida's private-school scholarship programs continues, with the statewide teacher's union revising its lawsuit and a school choice group producing a new television ad supporting the programs.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed federal complaints against school districts in Broward, Hernando, Hillsborough and Volusia counties over the use of all-girls or all-boys classes. The ACLU wants the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to investigate the programs.
StateImpact Florida’s Gina Jordan spoke with Galen Sherwin, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, about the complaints.
When Florida first approved its private school tax credit scholarship program in 2001, Florida Education Association attorney Ron Meyer said education groups questioned the legality, but no one really objected to helping low-income students get out of low-performing schools.
But then the scholarship program started to grow. Lawmakers approved a law that automatically expanded the program each year. Then earlier this year lawmakers raised the income cap. Now, a family of four earning $62,000 can receive a partial scholarship.
South Florida districts raised the curtain on a new school year Monday.
And that meant showing off two new programs in Miami-Dade schools: a new food truck and the iTech magnet program at Thomas A. Edison Educational Center, which was formerly Little Haiti's Edison Middle.
Miami-Dade is finishing a billion-dollar renovation of schools, and the food truck will serve meals at campuses when the cafeterias are closed.
If you want one of the roughly 1,800 new scholarships for students with disabilities that allows parents to mix and match services for their children, you better get an application in soon.
More than 1,200 families applied for a Personal Learning Scholarship Account, or PLSA, in the first week of applications. The scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and are intended for students autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other significant learning challenges.
The Urban League of Greater Miami wants parents to consider sending their children to charter schools. The organization hosted a town hall in Miami Wednesday night to build support for their idea of "school choice."
T. Willard Fair is the League's president. He says charter schools abide by contracts promising to produce certain outcomes, and if they fail, the contracts get canceled.
"What would happen if every poor performing school in Liberty City had to sign a contract? They all would be closed up," says Fair.