Education

A state judge is weighing a decision that could shake Florida's education-accountability system following a marathon hearing Monday in Tallahassee.

  Anya Contreras’ ninth grade algebra class started first thing in the morning, right around 7:30. “I’m not a math person, and I’m not a morning person either,” Contreras says, so she had a little routine to get through class. When she heard the teacher’s voice getting muffled, “I knew he was facing toward the board,” Contreras says. So she would close her eyes, let her head rest against the wall…and get a few seconds of precious sleep.

A Tallahassee judge is going to hold another hearing on the lawsuit challenging the state law that prevents some school children from being promoted to the fourth grade.

Verónica Zaragovia

A charter school in Immokalee, roughly 35 miles east of Fort Myers, wants to help migrant farm worker families overcome language barriers by using 21st century technology.

How?

The Immokalee Community School, run by the Redlands Christian Migrant Association, is bringing children and their migrant parents into the classroom.

For a moment, let's pretend.

That everything you know about America's public education system — the bitter politics and arcane funding policies, the rules and countless reasons our schools work (or don't) the way they do — is suddenly negotiable.

Pretend the obstacles to change have melted like butter on hot blacktop.

Now ask yourself: What could — and should — we do differently?

How should schools best prepare kids to live and work in the second half of the 21st century?

In previous eras, the job of school was simple: Teach them math and reading skills. Have them learn some basic facts about the world.

Today the challenge is a lot different. Most people all over the world, even in the poorest countries, have much easier access to a calculator, a dictionary and great swaths of knowledge in their pockets.

Rowan Moore Gerety / WLRN

Some 200 young people from schools throughout Broward and Miami-Dade are lined up on a football field while instructions come over the loudspeaker from a perch high in the stands.

In a ranch-style house in Town 'n Country, the Ruiz family converses over arroz con pollo in Spanish about the struggles of learning English.

The Venezuelan-Colombian family is a blend of native English speakers and Spanish speakers trying to learn or perfect the English language.

WLRN

Sandra Teramo never got to finish the list of local politicians she blames for the rapid expansion of charter schools in Miami-Dade County. “[State Rep.] Erik Fresen, other politicians such as City Commissioner...''

 

 


“Ma’am, I would appreciate it that you don’t mention names,” came the voice of School Board Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman. “Names are not allowed.”

 

Some 79 South Florida elementary schools will have an extra hour in the day this year, part of a program meant to boost performance at schools with low reading scores on state tests.

Poinciana Park Elementary School, in Liberty City, is one of many schools that’s been on the so-called “Lowest 300” list for several years running. WLRN’s Rowan Moore Gerety spoke with the principal there, Dr. Amrita Prakash, about the ups and downs of the program.

 

When the latest “School Grades” were released last week, districts across the state scrambled to portray their results in the most favorable light possible: they focused on rules changes that led to a statewide drop in the proportion of A schools (Miami-Dade), or pointed out the number of schools that had held their A grades steady (Broward); they considered “A and B schools” together as a group.

 

 

laptop
Alan Joyce via Flikr / WLRN

Pass a class, get a free laptop.

 

High schoolers in Monroe County who might fear computer coding now have an incentive to add it to their class schedules.

 

The program Monroe Computes has promised a free laptop to all high school students in the county who successfully take and pass the advanced placement computer science class from Florida Virtual School.

 

Rowan Moore Gerety / WLRN

After a year in Bertha Vasquez’s class at George Washington Carver Middle School, 13-year-old Penny Richards says she reads climate news while she rides the bus to school.

I step up to the counter at Willy's Cafe at Willamette High School in Eugene, Ore., and order a latte.

There's a powerful scent of fresh coffee in the air, and a group of juniors and seniors hover over a large espresso machine.

Carrie Gilbert, 17, shows how it's done: "You're going to want to steam the milk first," she explains. "Then once you have the coffee, dump it in and use the rest of the milk to fill the cup."

She hands over my order. Not bad.

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