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23 minutes | Feb 6, 2020
Controversies in the Capitol: Vouchers, teacher pay, Common and more
If you ever had any question whether education is important in Florida, look no further than Tallahassee. Year after year, lawmakers and the governor have spent hours crafting policy ideas — good and bad — and even longer arguing about them. Even in the sessions when they announce they'll be giving the issue a rest. And 2020 is no different. So many controversies in the Capitol center on schooling subjects. Our Tallahassee bureau reporter Emily Mahoney joins education reporter Jeff Solochek to talk about the latest battles over vouchers, teacher pay, the Common Core and more. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
11 minutes | Jan 30, 2020
Student scientists send research to space
Who says the annual science fair has to be boring? Three Pasco County high school seniors took a challenge to devise a research project worthy of study in anti-gravity, and they now will send their effort to the International Space Station. Their teacher also is quick to point out that Krinn Technical students Amanda Marrero, Shelly Nonnenberg and Emily Null are women in a field dominated by men. What's on their minds? Marrero, Nonnenberg and Null talk about their studies, and the importance of science education, with reporter Jeff Solochek. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
30 minutes | Jan 23, 2020
Who cares who a school district's superintendent is?
Superintendent searches serve to remind us of the important role that a chief executive plays in leading a school district to success. Everyone wants a "unicorn" — that unique someone who can do it all. But it's not always easy to find that person, as politics, loyalties and other agendas can interfere. All that came into play as Hillsborough County, the nation's seventh largest school system, looked for its next leader. And it's at issue in Pasco County, which elects its superintendent, as well. Reporters Marlene Sokol and Jeff Solochek discuss superintendent appointments and elections, and why they matter. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
26 minutes | Jan 16, 2020
Why are Florida schools using the Baker Act more often?
Florida's Baker Act wasn't intended to apply to school children when created in the 1970s. Lawmakers wanted to make it easier to help adults with mental health concerns get treatment closer to home. Over the years, though, schools have turned to the measure as justification to take into custody for evaluation children deemed a threat to themselves or others. And the numbers have grown, although oversight has not. Reporters Megan Reeves and Jack Evans have been investigating the situation. They talk about the issues with reporter Jeff Solochek, including what corrections might be forthcoming in the 2020 Florida legislative session. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
24 minutes | Jan 9, 2020
What education issues will dominate Florida's 2020 legislative session?
Florida's Legislature formally kicks off its 2020 session on Jan. 14. Several key education issues will hit the fan a day earlier. The Florida Education Association expects thousands of teachers to rally in Tallahassee for improved public school funding, while the Senate Education Committee is set to consider bills on several hot-button issues include teacher pay, voucher eligibility and charter school authorization. Will Monday foreshadow the tenor of Florida's education debate for the next few months? Reporters Emily Mahoney and Jeff Solochek discuss. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
26 minutes | Dec 19, 2019
Who will be Hillsborough County's next school superintendent?
The Hillsborough County school district, the seventh largest in the nation, is looking to hire a new chief executive before the current one retires in the spring. The School Board hasn't hired someone from outside the system to lead the district since the 1960s. But this time, the board appears intent on doing just that, to shake things up. Fifty-one hopefuls applied, from both near and far, and now comes the task of whittling down the list to the ones who will get an interview. How are things shaping up? Tampa Bay Times reporters Marlene Sokol and Jeff Solochek discuss the lay of the land as the search enters its next phase. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
13 minutes | Dec 12, 2019
There ought to be a law: One Florida student's civics lesson
As Florida government leaders look to enhance students' civics knowledge, they might want to talk to Hillsborough County senior Haley Manigold. She and some of her schoolmates at Armwood High identified a concern with the state's graduation requirements and how they affect teens still learning English. Rather than just complain, the group decided to urge the Legislature to action. This past week, Manigold was among those testifying before the state Senate Education Committee about the proposed legislation, which is being carried by former Senate president Tom Lee. In this podcast, Manigold explains her efforts, her views on the importance of civic education, and her suggestions for getting teens to better understand the system. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
23 minutes | Dec 5, 2019
What's coming in Florida education policy? A look at the 2020 legislative session
Florida's 2020 legislative session begins Jan. 14, and in the months leading up to the annual event, it's been Gov. Ron DeSantis — not state lawmakers — who has led the charge in proposing new directions in state education policy. Improving teacher pay has become the driving topic of the discussion so far. But what else can we expect? Something major, like another expansion of voucher programs? Or is this the year that the Legislature finally takes its oft discussed breather from education issues, to let the schools get accustomed to all the latest requirements of the past few sessions? Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau reporter Emily Mahoney joins Times education reporter Jeff Solochek to discuss the current lay of the land as lawmakers head into their final pre-session committee week. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
15 minutes | Nov 18, 2019
Why does a UF senator want to impeach the student body president?
University of Florida student government president Michael Murphy faces an impeachment inquiry in the aftermath of Donald Trump Jr.'s campus speech. A group of student senators alleges that Murphy, whose family has apparent connections to the president, improperly used student fees to pay Trump for his appearance. They contend it was a coordinated campaign visit, and have used the word 'collusion' to describe the way the event came to be. State Republicans, meanwhile, have come to Murphy's defense as the conversation picks up steam. What's all the fuss about? Student senator Ben Lima, who is leading the charge against Murphy, explains his position to reporter Megan Reeves. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
12 minutes | Nov 14, 2019
Why do principals matter? One principal's perspective.
In efforts to make schools better, Florida officials often look to the person in charge of the campus. The principal sets the tone, leads by example, attracts (or in negative examples, repels) the faculty and staff charged with the daily education of children. How do school principals view their responsibilities? As Florida school districts are recognizing their top educators, we turned to Pasco County's newly named Principal of the Year, JoAnne Glenn, to hear her thoughts about the highly touted role. Glenn, who runs a virtual school, discusses the importance of the job, as well as her views on the changing nature of public education in a time of choice and customization. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
17 minutes | Nov 7, 2019
Can Florida afford teacher raises and increase per-student funding, too?
Florida's government leaders have decided to prioritize increasing teacher pay in their next state budget. They also want to expand vouchers, bolster school security, improve early education funding and raise per-student spending. They don't want to raise taxes, either. (Did we mention the governor and the majorities in both chambers are Republican?) Is the goal possible? State Rep. Chris Latvala, chairman of the House PreK-12 Appropriations committee, talks with reporter Jeff Solochek about the moves under consideration to afford these many priorities. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
22 minutes | Oct 31, 2019
Why are Florida teacher union leaders riding a bus around the state?
As Florida lawmakers have gathered in the state capitol to debate education issues such as teacher pay, prekindergarten funding and student-athlete health protections, leaders of the state's largest teacher union hit the road. They launched a five-week, 50-stop bus tour aimed at drawing attention to their positions on the issues, which often differ from those of the governor and legislative leaders. What's do they hope to accomplish? Florida Education Association vice president Andrew Spar discusses the group's objectives, as well as the barriers they face, with reporter Jeff Solochek. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
19 minutes | Oct 24, 2019
Florida's school standards and children of color: A mom's view on what needs fixing
Alexandra Gilmore knew she needed to attend the Florida Department of Education's public forum about student expectations when it came to Tampa on Oct. 17. The mother of two, who sometimes substitutes in local schools, has seen the love of learning sucked out of her children, and others like them, because of the way the standards are implemented. Not all families start at the same place, Gilmore observed, and yet the state expects them all to begin at a high level — whether that's attainable or not. "The current standards are a set up for kids to fail," she said. What needs to be done? Hear Gilmore discuss her views on Florida's academic standards in an interview with reporter Jeff Solochek. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
24 minutes | Oct 17, 2019
Should Florida school districts have their own police forces?
Two years after Parkland, Florida government, political and education leaders continue to debate the best ways to keep schools safe from violence. The state's Public Safety Commission, convened in the aftermath of the deadly attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, is about to issue a new set of recommendations. How individual districts choose to address the issues remains distinctly local. In Hernando County, the far north exurbs of Tampa, officials have long sworn by having trained law enforcement officers in the schools. Until one day the school district administration came up with a different idea. What comes next? Hernando County education reporter Jack Evans discusses the ongoing discussion with Jeff Solochek in our latest Gradebook podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
18 minutes | Oct 10, 2019
Florida's governor proposes $600M for teacher raises. Why isn't everyone cheering?
This week, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his goal to increase Florida’s base teacher salary to $47,500. That would move the state from 26th in the nation to 2nd. And it would meet a longtime teacher plea to shift attention from bonuses to wages. DeSantis’ call to put more than half a billion dollars into paychecks didn’t win universal accolades, though. It instead was greeted with questions, doubts and criticisms. Why all the concern? Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association president Rob Kriete talks to reporter Jeff Solochek about the proposal and the pushback. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
17 minutes | Oct 9, 2019
What should schools do to help students who struggle to read?
In Florida, the Hillsborough County school district has one of the largest number of schools on the state's lowest performing list when it comes to reading. Nearly one in four students in the system score below grade level on the annual reading and language arts exam. To combat the problem, the district hired a consultant to explore where the problems lie, and what strategies might bring the lowest readers up. A newly released preliminary report pointed to the types of materials provided, and how equitably they are distributed, as key to the situation. Reporter Marlene Sokol talks with district chief academic officer Deborah Cook about the importance of reading and what the system has in mind to make improvements. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
17 minutes | Oct 3, 2019
A civics lesson for Florida teens who think there ought to be a law
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says the state's youth need improved civics lessons so they can become better citizens. Tony Pirotta, a social studies teacher at Hillsborough County's Armwood High School, sees the answer already exists — give students a hands-on experience to involve themselves in the government. Each year, he works with a group of teens to discover an issue that matters to them, and which they think needs attention in law. They study the subject, write a proposal, find lawmakers to sponsor their measure and lobby in the halls of Tallahassee. All of this, Pirotta says, makes civics both understandable and meaningful. Pirotta talks with reporter Jeff Solochek about the Ought to be a Law program, and this year's student initiative on testing of English-language learners. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
24 minutes | Sep 26, 2019
Florida's 4-year-olds: Are they ready for school?
Florida voters approved a universal prekindergarten program back in 2002, after lawmakers refused to implement a an early education system to help prepare young children for school. Since then, the program has grown in enrollment, but its funding has remained stagnant, and its success has been limited. This year, state officials have called for improvements. With early learning on the front burner — it was the first topic of conversation for the House Education Committee as it heads to the 2020 legislative session — we turned to Pinellas County Early Learning Coalition CEO Lindsay Carson to discuss what needs to be done to fix the state's prekindergarten and school readiness model. Carson also chairs the state's Association of Early Learning Coalitions. She spoke with reporter Jeff Solochek. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
22 minutes | Sep 19, 2019
They're back. Florida lawmakers talk education priorities for 2020
Just months after ending their 2019 session, Florida lawmakers have headed back to Tallahassee to begin preparing for 2020. The first week of committee meetings has offered a glimpse into the education priorities the Legislature is poised to tackle. Among them are school security (no surprise there) and early education. What else is on tap? Reporters Emily Mahoney and Jeff Solochek read the tea leaves. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
24 minutes | Sep 12, 2019
Can public comment at a school board meeting be made privately?
By their very nature, school board meetings are public. They're held in an open room. Anyone can attend. They exist specifically to deal with the public's business. Yet in the nation's eighth largest school district, the board chairwoman has led the fight to keep residents' comments to the board largely outside the public eye. She argues that some people wish to address the body privately, but in public. Plus, the same district — Hillsborough County — is looking for public input into its superintendent search. Through surveys and town halls, residents are encouraged to tell the district's headhunter exactly what they want to see in the next CEO. Is the board listening, or just going through the motions? Reporters Marlene Sokol and Jeff Solochek discuss the role of public comments as the district makes some key decisions. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
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