K-12 Stories

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School lunches

Everyone remembers it, the mystery meat and globs of mushy vegetables that cafeteria workers slopped on your plate, but school lunches aren’t like that now. New federal mandates dictate exactly what can be served, and the options are low-fat, low-sodium, low-calorie meals. There’s only one problem — students aren’t eating it.

Link to PDF: School Lunch

School Lunch

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Fists in the classroom

Students head to school each morning, their homework, textbooks and lunchboxes in hand. However, some return home with busted lips, black eyes and suspension notices. School fights occur all too frequently, despite a host of anti-bullying and anti-violence programs that have launched in recent years.

Link to PDF: Fists in the Classroom

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Paid suspensions

In five-plus years, Lee County schools paid $2.4 million for employees to stay home.

That includes $4,285 to an accounting clerk suspended with pay after he attempted to solicit a prostitute in his school district vehicle. And $11,500 to a teacher found smoking with a student on campus and $32,162 to a pair of teachers caught having sex on school grounds.

Link to PDF: Paid Suspensions

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Bus crashes

School buses are lit up like bright yellow Christmas trees, wrapped in reflective tape and strung with dozens of flashing lights. Considering the frequency of bus crashes during the first semester, one every 1.84 school days, school buses might as well have bull’s-eyes painted on their side.

Link to PDF: Bus Crashes

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London band

A short story about a canceled marching band trip sparked an international uproar when one school official said, “We don’t have trains blowing up in America.” The statement led British officials to threaten a tourism boycott and drew ire from mayors of Fort Myers, Fla., and London, the British consulate general and hundreds of people around the world who flooded the superintendent’s email box. Ultimately, the band was allowed to go, and the community chipped in most of the $441,970 cost.

Link to PDF: London band

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Brown vs. Board of Education

When people think of the segregated South, they’re usually referring to places such as Birmingham, Ala., or Jackson, Miss., not Fort Myers, Fla. Railroad tracks separated the white and black communities, and schools echoed that segregation long after the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision.

Link to PDF: Brown vs. Board

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Teaching at Ground Zero

A group of Florida educators were so moved by the events of Sept. 11 that they hopped on an airplane to relieve teachers in Lower Manhattan. They brought postcards, stuffed animals, seashells and science lessons, but most importantly, a shoulder to lean on. They also heard a riveting tale from the principal whose leadership was stronger than ever that day, all the while a call never came from her firefighter-husband.

Link to PDF: Teaching at Ground Zero

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Internal promotions

In Florida, all public school positions must be advertised, and the interview process is open to the public. After noticing a series of vacancies were awarded to the only internal candidate who applied, I asked the runners-up about whether they were given a fair shake. The answer? A resounding no.

Link to PDF: Internal Promotions

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