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25th May 2023
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DeSantis announces White House bid
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his run for President Wednesday evening, in a Twitter conversation with Elon Musk, the social media platform’s owner. Many Republicans seeking an alternative to former President Donald Trump are staking their hopes on the Florida governor, who is the ninth Republican to officially enter the race. Chris Curran, director of the Education Policy Research Center at the University of Florida College of Education, comments: “Without a doubt, him stepping into the presidential arena ensures that education is going to be a central part of those debates. What that may mean in the primaries is a greater attention—probably from former President Trump—to education.”
The One Professional Learning Event your Team Must Attend This Summer!

Mindsets University is a truly immersive two-day conference offering interactive experiences, powerful self-care practices, motivational keynotes, and best-in-class instructional strategies to ensure well-being, engagement, and success in your classroom—and in life. Attendees will have the opportunity to network with peers and share success and challenges with fellow educators from across the country. Featuring a roster of well-known speakers, including Dr. Salome Thomas El, aka “Principal El” and Dr. Baron R. Davis, the 2023 Mindsets University will inspire, invigorate, and empower educators, and attendees will leave feeling renewed, confident, and ready for the 2023-24 school year. Registration is now open for the event, which takes place June 26-27, at Florida’s Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, with early-bird pricing through May 26th.  

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NCES report underlines pandemic challenges
A fresh report from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) underlines the challenges schools face in recovering from the pandemic. The 54-page “Report on the Condition of Education 2023” showed data on widespread teacher shortages in foreign languages, special education, physical sciences, math and computer science, and spotlighted the sluggish pipeline for new teachers. Enrollment in traditional teacher preparation programs fell 30% in seven years. The report highlights lagging enrollment in the nation’s public schools, which is down 3% in 2021, with 49.4m students compared with 50.8m before the pandemic, in 2019, and that enrollment in public charter schools bucked the trend. Researchers said 3.7m students were enrolled in charters in 2021, compared with 3.4m in 2019. Researchers said half of students were below grade level in at least one subject in fall of 2021, which fell to 36% as the year ended, and that schools reported higher levels of student and teacher absenteeism last year. Nearly 70% also reported more students seeking mental health services. A bright spot for now, the report points to a partial rebound for children in prekindergarten and kindergarten. Before the pandemic, 54% of 3- and 4-year-olds were in school, which dropped to 40% in 2020 then grew to 50% in 2021.
Pasco Schools agrees employee raises
The Pasco County School District has agreed to provide pay raises to all non-administrative employees, as promised during a property tax referendum campaign last August. In a quick negotiating session, officials signed a deal that would provide teachers and support staff increases averaging about 9%, with veteran workers getting even more. Teacher payments would range from $2,000 to $7,245, based on years of teaching credit, while support staff would get between 80 cents and $3.50 more an hour, depending on their years of service in the district. The raises will be effective from July.
Seven shortlisted for Osceola County Superintendent role
Seven educators have been shortlisted for the position of the Osceola County School District's next superintendent. The School Board narrowed down the list of 12 potential semifinalists. The candidates are Dr. Michael Allen, Dr. James Larsen, Dr. Kim D. Moore, Terrence L. Connor, Dr. Ann Hembrook, Marcos Murillo, and Dr. Mark Shanoff. They board will narrow that list down to three to five finalists, and they will go through a full day of interviews, community tours, and a dinner reception at Valencia College on June 5.
Private school administration requires improvements, GAO says
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended that the U.S. Department of Education strengthen training and guidance for state administrators who oversee learning supports that private school students are entitled to under federal law. The GAO found that private and public schools officials, along with state administrators overseeing federally funded supports known as equitable services, struggle with identifying and counting children eligible for services. The GAO reported these officials face additional difficulties coordinating with multiple school districts or with private schools across school district boundaries. Specifically, the GAO survey of state administrators overseeing equitable services under ESSA, who are also known as ombuds, found that 94% said they needed support with the equitable services legal requirements, and 92% said they wanted guidance with monitoring and enforcement. There are about 4.6m students attending private schools in the U.S.
Indian River School Board repeals racial-equity policy
The Indian River School Board has repealed its racial-equity policy, replacing it with a more generic "safe, respectful and inclusive" policy. The three-year-old policy was repealed in a 3-0 vote after the Florida Department of Education told officials in November that it may need revision to comply with 2022 state laws. The state found fault with a line in the district's policy addressing the need to understand and address "institutional racism" to increase academic achievements for students of color. Supporters of the revised policy applauded the board's action, especially as the district remains under a 1967 federal desegregation court order to ensure its schools are racially balanced. Critics argued there's no need for any policy. "We don't have a social issue, a cultural issue or an educational level of racism (in the district)," said Jennifer Pippin, president of the Indian River County chapter of Moms for Liberty.
Summer meal programs face decline
Summer meal programs are expected to serve fewer students this summer after the expiration of the pandemic-era federal waiver. A report by the Food Research & Action Center found that for every 100 children who received a lunch during the 2020-21 school year, only 30.4 received a lunch the following summer, when the waiver was still in effect. “This summer we're going to see a much bigger drop because summer meal waivers are gone,” said Diane Pratt-Heavner of the School Nutrition Association. Without intervention, participation in meal programs is expected to continue falling. Raising awareness is key to increasing participation, advocates say, and districts should continue to make an intentional effort to ensure families know free or reduced-price summer meals are available.
White House says Florida school engaged in 'censorship' of Amanda Gorman
The White House is unhappy with a decision by the Bob Graham Education Center, a kindergarten through eighth grade school in Miami Lakes, to remove a poem by President Joe Biden's inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, from its library's elementary section. Biden was "proud" to include Gorman, the country's youngest inaugural poet, in his inauguration, according to press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Gorman said she was “gutted” by the district’s decision and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has invited her to the city for a reading.

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