School grades fallout, teacher lawsuit, international teachers help ease educator shortage and more

Around the state: Some school districts are experiencing fallout after the release of school grades, three teachers sued the state and international teachers are being utilized to help with the teacher shortage. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Hillsborough: The school board here on Tuesday approved the appointment of a new principal for Franklin Boys Preparatory School in Tampa. On Jan. 8, Konrad McCree will take the helm at the school. He left the Pinellas county school district in June after leading Bayside High in Clearwater since 2021. He replaces John Haley. Tampa Bay Times.

Escambia: Bellview Middle School will become the third school in Escambia to adopt the Community Partnership Schools model this year with partnership among Children’s Home Society of Florida, Community Health Northwest Florida, Escambia County School District and the University of West Florida. “The partnerships are announced as the next step in growing the successful model first implemented in Orlando at Evans High School in 2012 and expanded to more than 40 schools statewide, transforming tens of thousands of lives,” Escambia County Public Schools says in a release. In the newly-released school grades for the 2022-23 school year, Bellview received a “D” grade.  WEAR.

School grades: Members of the school board in Hillsborough spent time during Tuesday’s board meeting responding to this week’s disappointing school grades from the state. The grades were released on Monday and show lower than passing levels of proficiency in English and math for the district’s 200,000 students. The state changed its standards and testing systems, which made it difficult to compare one year to the next and leaving the statistics bleak in Hillsborough. The county’s elementary schools went from having six D schools and one F school in 2022 to 23 D schools and four F schools in 2023. Meanwhile, Pinellas County’s elementary schools had four D’s in 2022 and four D’s in 2023, with no F’s anywhere. In Pasco, the elementary grades improved from six D’s and four F’s to eight D’s and two F’s. Board member Lynn Gray said “there is a silver lining in knowing the realities, where we are, because it motivates us to get better.” In Polk, the schools placed in the lower 15% of school districts statewide.  Lakeland Ledger. Tampa Bay Times.

Lawsuit filed: Three teachers in Florida on Wednesday sued the state over its law that prohibits transgender and nonbinary teachers from using their preferred pronouns in school. The teachers say it violates their constitutional rights. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Tallahassee. Reuters. Axios. Politico. Tampa Bay Times.

Cellphones in schools: A company that producers neoprene pouches to lock up students’ cellphones is booming in business, which is a clear sign that the movement to keep phones out of classrooms is spreading across the United States. The 74th.

Teacher shortage: Florida began the year with 7,000 teacher vacancies, according to the Florida Education Association. To help, international teachers are stepping up to fill special education shortages. Professor Jie Yu said bringing in international teachers is actually pretty common. “So I believe hiring international teachers is a very efficient short-term solution to address the teacher shortage in the state,” said Yu. WFSU.

Colleges and universities: Jason Pizzo visited a political science class at Nova Southeastern University recently to talk to college students as part of a statewide tour for the Senate minority leader. WLRN. Meanwhile, the president of the American Council on Education, Ted Mitchell, spoke about rights and limits to free speech on college campuses. NPR. With extreme weather events and workforce shortages taking their toll on South Florida farmlands, a new innovation center at Florida Atlantic University is hoping to confront these challenges. FAU will collaborate with Florida International University to establish the Microbiome Innovation Center with help from a four-year, $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The center also hopes to combat the declining interest among younger workers for careers in agriculture, food and natural resources.  WLRN.

Avatar photo

BY Camille Knox