How to outfox stubborn state law
Jeers to the state statute that requires the revocation of charter school contracts should the publicly funded but privately operated school receive two consecutive F grades from the Florida Department of Education. Despite a charter’s specific and special mission that fills a void in a school district, the law allows no exceptions. That lack of charity is one of the fundamental elements of the state’s fixation on high-stakes standardized tests, one of the foremost factors in school grades.
Just for Girls, which operates a charter elementary, alternative middle school and after-school programs, serves girls with special needs. The middle school provides girls having trouble succeeding in a traditional school a place to turn their lives around and develop a strategy for success.
The goal of the charter elementary school, which opened in August of 2012, focuses on increasing the academic success of youngsters via character development, leadership training and service learning, all designed to strengthen girls’ relationships with their peers, families and community. State law forced the Manatee County school board to revoke the elementary school contract with the district.
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Just for Girls CEO Becky Canesse pointed to other factors not considered in state grades yet offer proof of student progress, including improved attendance, declines in behavior issues and academic achievements that inch the students closer toward being on grade level.
District Superintendent Diana Greene came up with an innovative proposal to work around the stubborn state law — by converting the elementary school contract into an agreement for an alternative education program, similar to the middle school operation. Just for Girls will be able to continue working with at-risk elementary school-age girls. The school board unanimously approved this new contract.
Alternative education centers are not graded by the state. Students must sit for the standardized tests, but their scores are factored into the grades of their base schools.
Cheers to Greene and the board for preserving a customized educational environment.
Kudos: Sheriff’s office expands social media
Cheers to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Department for the creation and release of an official mobile application, now available for free on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Simple search for “Manatee County Sheriff’s Department.”
Residents can report crimes, submit tips and read public safety news and information as well as view a list of most wanted suspects and other mugshots. Images of inmates booked daily into the county jail are a hugely popular features of www.bradenton.com.
“We understand how important social media is now and that’s why we use our Facebook as much as we can and we tweet,” MCSO spokesman Dave Bristow told the Herald this week. “I think this mobile app would go hand in hand with the rest of our social media.”
Another avenue to access important public safety information is most welcome.
Visit www.manateecheriff.com for app details.
Quote of the week
“My heart breaks because there are 400 churches in this town. It’s embarrassing. The churches need to get off their butts, get out of their four walls and care for these kids. We have got to take care of these kids. If everyone in a church took a child, we would not have any kids hurting.”
— Pastor Jerry Parrish, a street minister, offering one solution to the child welfare crisis caused by youngsters being taken from their homes because of their parents’ heroin addictions. He was speaking at Tuesday’s town hall on the crisis.