You are receiving this email newsletter because you are a subscriber of Education Slice (formerly Principal News) or you signed up for our email newsletter on our site.
14th March 2023
Proposals in Florida to move towards partisan school boards
Though the status quo has been nonpartisan school boards for at least 20 years, some Florida GOP lawmakers want to see if voters think local school boards should be partisan so that school board members could be identified as Democrats and Republicans. There are 67 traditional school districts and around 2.8m students in Florida’s public schools, so the decision, which would need to come in the form of a constitutional amendment, is a big one. Currently, because school board races are nonpartisan, any registered voter can cast their vote for the candidate they think is best suited for the job during the primaries. If school board elections become partisan, "no party affiliation" voters would not be able to vote in the primaries, even though many of the school board races are determined then, unless there’s a runoff. The legislation (HJR 31) is sponsored by Rep. Spencer Roach, a Republican from Southwest Florida. The Senate version, SJR 94, is sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters, who represents Sarasota and part of Manatee County.
Elite school diversification 'lottery systems' challenged nationwide
There have been pushbacks in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and elsewhere across the United States in recent years, as school districts seek to expand access to rigorous public high schools. While district officials nationwide say that white and Asian students are often overrepresented at the schools and that a broader array of residents should have an opportunity to attend, parents and some alumni groups say that it's the "pipeline" that needs to be fixed, not the admissions systems. Philadelphia schools Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr. says he knows the process isn’t perfect but calls the lottery system his district is trying to improve upon an appropriate step toward equitable access. The district is hiring outside consultants and listening to community feedback to see if the system needs to be further adjusted. Philadelphia’s public-school district serves nearly 200,000 students, who are 51% Black, 23% Latino, 13% white and 7% Asian. Under prior admissions processes, between 30% and 40% of qualified applicants for the special-admissions schools were Black or Latino. Under the more recent lottery system, that proportion rose to nearly 63%. Notably, schools that set academic qualifications for enrollment are rare in the nation’s public school systems. Chester E. Finn Jr., a senior fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, found 165 selective-admissions high schools nationwide, many on the East Coast.
Seminole teachers reach salary agreements after long impasse
Ending a months-long labor dispute, Seminole County's public school teachers reached a salary agreement with the school district Monday that gives instructors raises of about $2,000 to $2,400. The agreement for the current 2022-23 school year is what the teachers union and the district agreed to previously, but it does not guarantee the same raises will be provided next school year as the union wanted. Notably, Special Magistrate James Mastriani, who heard evidence from both sides in a January impasse hearing, said in his March 9 ruling that it was not reasonable for the district to agree on a pay plan for next year when it would be made in the “absence of credible evidence as to state funding” and other budgetary information.
Bills on diversity, gender pass Florida committees
Florida Republicans on Monday advanced two key initiatives of Gov. Ron DeSantis as he prepares for an expected presidential run, banning gender affirming care for minors and eliminating diversity programs in colleges. The Republican supermajority in the statehouse is set to rubber stamp virtually all DeSantis’ priorities during this year’s legislative session, giving the governor a platform of policy wins that could prove popular during a GOP primary. While the proposals have cleared separate committees, they must still win approval from the full House and Senate chambers.
Law requiring students take online course to graduate could be dropped
Lawmakers in Florida are rethinking the value of the requirement that students must take an online course to graduate. Both the House and Senate have proposed eliminating the provision, which went into effect with ninth-graders entering high school in 2011. The change is contained in bills (HB 1 and SB 202) aimed at expanding tax-funded school vouchers to all K-12 students in Florida. The state superintendents' association requested the change as one way to reduce the number of requirements Florida puts on public schools but not private schools. Bay County Schools superintendent Bill Husfelt, the association's president, said concerns about the online requirement emerged well before COVID-19 sent children home to learn remotely. “The problem is not all kids have access to it,” Husfelt said. “The northern part of our county doesn't even have internet access.”
Mixed results shadow four-day school weeks
Acute staffing shortages are the latest driver behind some schools' push toward four-day school weeks. Around 200 mostly rural districts have adopted such plans since 2019 and many more have announced plans to implement then this fall. In prior years, four-day weeks had been concentrated in Colorado, Montana, Oklahoma and Oregon. More recently, the idea has spread across Missouri, where one in four school districts is operating four days a week, and in Texas, where about 60 districts out of more than 1,000 have adopted the idea, according to one count. About a decade ago, school districts began experimenting with a four-day week in a quest to save money, mostly by reducing transportation costs, and by 2019 about 650 districts of more than 13,000 nationwide had adopted the schedule, according to a tally by Paul Thompson, an economist at Oregon State University who has studied the shorter school week in depth. There is almost no evidence that shorter workweeks work for improving workforce challenges however. While the policy is popular with many teachers and families, researchers also see serious academic and other downsides, depending on how the programs are structured. Thompson’s own research asserts that districts can maintain academic achievement levels only if they do not significantly cut back on instructional hours, for example. “You don’t want to be the only district in your labor market offering a five-day week,” Thompson adds. “What are the ramifications if everyone switches?”
Higher education reform could be next on DeSantis' agenda
A reform of higher education procedures is likely on Gov. Ron DeSantis' ambitious agenda for Florida. His proposed reforms to state universities would eliminate funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, which he says serve as "a political filter," while other proposed reforms include faculty tenure reviews and requiring that general education courses do not "promote ideological indoctrination." He has also appointed several conservative activists and individuals to the board of the state-run New College of Florida. He's also seeking to provide more funding to increase recruitment and scholarships, citing low enrollment at the institution.

Education Slice delivers the latest, most relevant and useful intelligence to key educators, administrators, decision makers and teaching influencers, each weekday morning..

Content is selected to an exacting brief from hundreds of influential media sources and summarised by experienced journalists into an easy-to-read digest email. Education Slice enhances the performance and decision-making capabilities of individuals and teams by delivering the relevant news, innovations and knowledge in a cost-effective way.

If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities within Education Slice, please get in touch via email sales team

This e-mail has been sent to [[EMAIL_TO]]

Click here to unsubscribe