Leon County Judge John Cooper hears arguments Aug. 17, 2018, on whether to leave Amendment 8 on the November ballot. [The Florida Channel]

With elections fast approaching, eyes are on Florida’s courts to see whether a controversial three-pronged education proposal to amend the state constitution will make its way back on the November ballot. A Leon County judge agreed with residents who claimed the measure, put forth by the Constitution Revision Commission, was misleading and confusing. The issue is on its way to the state Supreme Court, along with other related challenges aimed at keeping the matter away from voters.  • Don’t miss our weekly highlights of the news, views, reports and more. You can keep up daily with our conversation on Facebook, hear our podcast, and follow our blog to get all the latest Florida education news. All tips, comments and ideas welcome. Know anyone else who’d like to get this weekly roundup or other email updates? Have them send a note to jsolochek@tampabay.com.

Top of the Times

Judge orders Amendment 8 be removed from Florida ballot, Emily Mahoney
“A Leon county judge ordered Monday that Amendment 8, the measure that seeks to create a pathway for the state to oversee charter schools and bypass local school boards, be removed from the ballot. Circuit Judge John Cooper wrote in a summary judgement that the amendment’s ballot title and summary ‘fails to inform voters of the chief purpose and effect of this proposal.’”
RELATED: Amendment 8 ruling appeal heads straight to Florida Supreme Court
RELATED: State responds to challenge of six bundled amendment proposals, calls them proper

Gov. Scott requests school safety money shuffle to add more campus officers, Emily Mahoney and Colleen Wright
“Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday evening that the unused money in the program to arm school staff — a total of $58 million — should soon be redirected to help school districts with other school safety measures, like hiring more officers on campus. The move was not a surprise, as it was something both legislative leaders and Scott had promised to do as the session came to an end in March, after the governor signed SB 7026, the bill that created these new pots of money in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland.”
RELATED: Florida Legislature’s Republican leaders clash with governor’s school security request, Associated Press

Pasco School Board considers longer days for higher pay, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“Pasco County teachers have in recent months urged their School Board to find money for increased salaries. The plan that’s emerging might have them working 30 minutes more daily in exchange for average raises of $3,300.”

USF funding takes a hit despite preeminence bump, Claire McNeill
“It was just a few months ago that the University of South Florida was celebrating its ascent into the official ranks of the state’s ‘preeminent’ universities, a signifier of prestige that came with $6.1 million in bonus funding. But even as USF’s performance improved, and even as the university gained that extra money, the state still ended up giving the USF System less performance-based funding than last year. Ultimately, USF missed out on millions more in bonus dollars.”

Hillsborough School Board to place sales tax on November ballot, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“Saying they had little to lose, but much to gain for the county’s children, Hillsborough School Board members decided Friday to ask voters to approve a half-cent, 10-year local sales tax increase during the Nov. 6 election. The 5-2 vote, opposed by members April Griffin and Melissa Snively, puts the district in direct competition with a local group seeking a 1-cent sales tax for transportation improvements.”

Around the State

Was the Palm Beach Central shooting a ‘school shooting’? It depends who you ask, Palm Beach Post, Andrew Marra
“One day after gunfire pierced the night at a Palm Beach Central High football game, authorities were quick to insist that it was ‘not a school shooting.’ Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw led the charge, saying flatly at a Saturday news conference that it was ‘not a school-shooting situation’ because no students were involved.”

Greene looks to involve parents, teachers in vetting new principals, Florida Times-Union, Denise Amos
“Duval County’s new school superintendent wants parents, teachers and students to have more of a say in principal hires and promotions. She wants those groups to pick among principal finalists. The idea is to give new principals greater credibility with the people who are most important in schools, Superintendent Diana Greene said Tuesday.”

Lee County NAACP, school district agree to settlement in civil rights complaint, Fort Myers News-Press, Thyrie Bland
“The Lee County NAACP and the Lee County school district announced a settlement Tuesday that is the result of a complaint the civil rights organization filed against the district in 2017. The NAACP’s complaint, filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, addressed disparities in achievement, suspensions and the school-to-prison pipeline for minority students.”

Another Nassau County middle school quietly eliminates advanced classes, WJAX, Jenna Bourne
“Callahan Middle School quietly eliminated its advanced classes this school year, without notifying parents. It’s a strategy to raise school ratings, according to Mark Durham, the Nassau County School District’s executive director of curriculum, instruction and school improvement.”

Other Views

Community schools eliminating barriers to success, Gainesville Sun guest column, Children’s Home Society of Florida CEO Michael Shaver
“It’s time to take a disruptive approach to breaking cycles of educational failures by responding to the root causes that create barriers to learning. This means transforming the communities surrounding our schools with unique collaborations like the Community Partnership School model.”

Dual enrollment is a winning strategy for Florida students, Tallahassee Democrat guest column, Pam Forrester
“In the past several years, Florida’s dual enrollment numbers have exploded.  In 2017-18, approximately 70,000 students enrolled at one of the state’s 28 public colleges according to newly released data from the Florida College System. That is a 30-percent surge over 2014-15 numbers.”

One flim-flam amendment down, five to go, Sun-Sentinel editorial
“One of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission’s worst flim-flams got what it deserved Monday when a circuit judge in Tallahassee struck Amendment 8 from the Nov. 6 ballot. Let’s hope it’s gone for good — and that a batch of similarly misleading amendments also get the boot.”

Florida Needs Another Path For Charter Schools, The Capitolist column, Lane Wright
“Amendment 8 may not be on the ballot come November, but we can’t ignore the issue it was trying to address. Charter schools have a legitimate place in our state. They’re written into our laws because they give families a public-school option (and hope) when their zoned school doesn’t meet their needs. But they have to get approved by someone before charter school leaders can find a building, hire a principal and teachers, and let students come to learn. In Florida, that’s exclusively the job of local school boards.”

Reports of Note

The State of State Standards Post Common Core, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
“Insofar as they have chosen to stick with the Common Core, most states now have excellent ELA and math standards. So, policymakers would do well to remember the most famous principle of sound medicine: ‘First, do no harm.’ Any improvements to ELA or math standards in these states are likely to have (at most) a minor impact on student achievement, and recent experience suggests that ill-advised revisions have the potential to do considerable damage.”

Benefits Take Larger Bite Out of District K-12 Education Budgets, TeacherPensions.org
“The rising cost of benefits poses problems for educators and legislators alike. For teachers, higher benefit costs do not necessarily mean they’re receiving more valuable pensions or more generous health care. It is instead more likely that the state is spending more to pay down debts. Worse still, growing benefit costs make salary increases far less likely because states by and large are not increasing their K-12 investments.”

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