Growth of virtual schools spurs debate on funding
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in student enrollments in virtual education, highlighting competition among Florida providers — and sparking debate over whether lawmakers should change the way public schools are funded as more and more students take online courses. Florida students have several virtual school options. The state offers full-time or part-time education through Florida Virtual School, the oldest and largest online provider. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Pandemic worsens teacher shortage
The continued presence of COVID-19 has impacted the state’s school staff shortage. Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, said teaching and support staff positions have been difficult to fill lately. “We had a massive shortage of teachers and staff before (the) pandemic, and while the pandemic may have increased those numbers, we are seeing what we have never seen before,” Spar said. He said data compiled by the FEA reveals the crippling effect the pandemic has had on school staff, further contributing to the shortages school districts have faced since 2016. Click Orlando and the University of Miami News.
Column: Closing the Growing Gender Gap in Higher Education
A gender gap in higher education has gradually widened into a chasm, with male students lagging behind in university entry and completion rates, especially young men of color. “There is a linear educational trajectory for girls and women,” Richard Reeves, senior researcher at the Brookings Institution, told The Atlantic. In contrast, he observed, “boys and men tend to zigzag during adolescence.” [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
New Florida program offers free books to struggling elementary school readers
A state-backed program designed to help struggling elementary school readers by delivering free books to their homes is expected to start shipping books next month, and eligible families are encouraged to enroll. The New Worlds Reading Initiative is a state investment of more than $ 200 million to boost literacy among students who read below grade. Lawmakers passed a bill (HB 3) to create and fund the program during this spring’s legislative session, responding to a priority of House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor. Governor Ron DeSantis signed the measure in July. [Source: Click Orlando]
Last Friday, the University of Central Florida was recognized as one of 10 schools nationwide in 2021 with the “Seal of Excelencia,” an award from a national organization that recognizes colleges and universities that intentionally seek success of Latino students. Including recipients from previous years, UCF is now one of 24 institutions across the country with such designation from the non-profit group founded by Latina Excelencia in Education. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
›Florida’s largest school district, Miami-Dade, loosens mask rule
Florida’s largest school district on Monday announced it was relaxing its mask mandate intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 for high school and middle school students. Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told a press conference parents of older students can remove them from the district’s mask requirement. The new rules take effect immediately.
›UF has restricted five other professors in cases against the state
The University of Florida has gradually moved towards suppressing the voices of its academics who wish to offer legal or subject matter expertise in cases that challenge policies advanced by the governor or the legislature. For faculty at the state’s flagship university, the episode has Orwellian overtones.
›Amid school bus driver shortage, state lawmakers come up with idea that could make matters worse
Since the start of the school year, thousands of school buses across Florida have remained in the park as the state faces a historic shortage of bus drivers. School district lobbyists say about 17.5% – or nearly one in five – bus driver positions remain vacant for more than half of the first semester. The 1925 known positions represent thousands of trips per day.
›Florida teacher won’t be charged for showing R-rated film
Sheriff’s investigation refutes allegations that a Florida Panhandle teacher subjected his students to pornography by letting them watch the R-rated film “Alexander”. Parents of a 15-year-old girl told school officials she was traumatized by the Niceville high school teacher showing students a movie they considered “porn.” But Okaloosa County Sheriff officials said there was no likely reason to bring charges against the teacher.
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