Sammy Mack

Sammy Mack loves public radio and public policy.

Mack is the Miami-based education reporter for StateImpact Florida. She is a St. Petersburg native and a product of Florida public schools. She even took the first FCAT.

Mack previously was a digital editor and health care policy reporter for WLRN - Miami Herald News, where she covered the public health and health policy beat. For two years, her health reporting with WLRN was supported by the grant-funded HealthyState.org project. She was selected as a 2012 fellow with the Kaiser Health News and NPR Health Care Reporting in the States project.

Her stories have also appeared on NPR, Monocle 24, the Miami Herald, Global Health, HealthNewsFlorida.org, Gambit Weekly, MAP Magazine, Gulfshore Life, Philadelphia Weekly, the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) and other outlets.

Mack’s work has been honored with Florida AP Broadcaster and SPJ Sunshine State awards. She’s collaborated on projects that have won an Emmy, regional Edward R. Murrow awards, a Wilbur Award and a Dart Award. Mack was a writing fellow during the 2008 Poynter Summer Fellowship for Young Journalists.

She was recognized by her colleagues as the 2011 Herald Top Chef. She’s happy to share her recipe for garam masala macarons with lemongrass filling.

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Politics
8:34 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Miami-Dade Panel Addresses Politics Of Race And Inclusion

Miami-Dade County commissioners argued over who built Miami. Now a different group is addressing those tensions.
Credit Ambro / freedigitalphotos.net

Miami-Dade County’s Black Affairs Advisory Board and Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board spent four hours talking race, diversity and inclusion yesterday.

The discourse was a response to a racially charged commission debate over a county contract last February.

Over the course of three panels, it was made clear that the February venom was just the most recent episode in a long history of unease between Miami’s black and Hispanic communities.

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Education
8:40 pm
Sun May 4, 2014

WATCH: Sir Patrick Stewart Talks Arts Education, Shakespeare

Sir Patrick Stewart is the chancellor of a university.
Credit Maria Murriel / WLRN

The actor Sir Patrick Stewart is best known in the United States for his roles on stage and on screen. But you might be surprised to learn that the man who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard is chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, a 20,000-student university in England.

Stewart was in South Florida this past week for Going Global, an international higher education conference sponsored by the British Council.

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Obituary
7:56 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Remembering FCAT, 1995-2014

Florida students sit through their last FCAT this year.
Credit Photo by Norm Robbie (Flickr) / Illustration by Sammy Mack

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is dying, say Florida education officials. By this time next year, the FCAT will be replaced with a new, Common Core-aligned assessment.

FCAT was born in 1995 in the humid June of a Tallahassee summer.

The Florida Commission on Education Reform and Accountability under Gov. Lawton Chiles gave birth to the test. It was part of a series of recommendations that were meant to give local districts more control and a better sense of how their schools were doing.

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StateImpact Florida
9:26 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Checking In On Education Bills As Florida Legislature Reaches Halfway Point

The 2014 Florida legislative session has reached the halfway point.
Credit STEVENM_61 / Flickr.com

The 2014 Florida legislative session reached the halfway point last week, so we thought we’d check in on some of the big education bills.

THE BUDGET

The House, Senate and Gov. Rick Scott mostly agree on education spending based on their proposed budgets.

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StateImpact Florida
4:46 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Why Police Support Common Core Standards In Florida

Chief Ian Moffett of Miami-Dade County Public Schools supports the state's new standards.

National anti-crime group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a position paper last week in favor of Florida’s new standards for English language arts and math. The group argues assessments and higher standards can prevent crime.

Here’s the paper’s summary of the connection:

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Education
6:09 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Gov. Rick Scott Talks Preschool Budgets, Preschoolers Respond

Rick Scott talked preschool budgets with preschoolers.
Credit @FLGovScott / Twitter

Gov. Rick Scott visited the Miami Children’s Museum Monday to promote the state’s preschool program.

The governor stood against a backdrop of finger paint and glitter and talked about increasing funding for early learning.

StateImpact Florida was there. You can listen to the full report:

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StateImpact Florida
9:37 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Mining Student Data To Keep Kids From Dropping Out

Natasha Santana-Viera and Mack Godbee talk grades and goals at Miami Carol City Senior High.
Credit Sammy Mack / StateImpact Florida

It’s report card day at Miami Carol City Senior High, and sophomore Mack Godbee is reviewing his grades with his mentor, Natasha Santana-Viera.

The first quarter on Godbee’s report card is littered with Ds and Fs. This quarter, there are more Cs and Bs. He’s got an A in English.

“Congratulations on that,” says Santana-Viera. “When you need help, do you know where to go?”

“Straight to y’all,” says Godbee.

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Health Care
5:01 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Florida's Insurers Push To Sell Health Coverage To Latinos

Yolanda Madrid of Miami (left) talks with navigator Daniela Campos while signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act in January.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 7:59 am

For all of California's troubles advertising health care to Latinos, that state has embraced the Affordable Care Act and is spending millions of dollars to get people to sign up. Florida is a different story.

Florida has a high rate of uninsured Latinos - almost 10 percent of all the country's uninsured Hispanics who are eligible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act live in the state.

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Session 2014
12:24 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

What The Florida Education Association Is Looking For During The Legislative Session

FEA President Andy Ford
Credit NEA Public Relations

In his State of the State address on Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott promoted his $18.8 billion budget for education.

But if it were up to Florida Education Association president Andy Ford, there would be even more money going to Florida’s public schools.

The Florida Education Association is the state umbrella group for Florida teachers’ unions. Before the legislative session began, Ford sat down with StateImpact Florida to talk about policy priorities this year.

Q: Where is FEA on the Common Core State Standards now?

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Glitz And Grit
11:33 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Students Keep The Show Going At The South Beach Wine And Food Festival

Octavio Araujo is one of the FIU students keeping things under control at SOBEWFF
Credit Sammy Mack / WLRN

The South Beach Wine and Food Festival has a reputation for celebrity chef sightings and swanky food tastings.

But at its core, it’s a fundraising event.

SoBeWFF has raised more than $18 million over the last 13 years for Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. It’s also given thousands of student volunteers a chance to work behind the scenes.

We hopped on a golf cart with one of the student volunteers staffing the festival and have this audio postcard: 

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StateImpact Florida
10:13 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Marco Rubio Wants To Change College

There was a protest outside the hall where Rubio spoke.
Credit Wilson Sayre / WLRN

When Sen. Marco Rubio was growing up, his parents gave him an edict:

“From a very early age they used to tell us, ‘tu tienes que estudiar,’ which means, ‘you have to study.’ So growing up I don’t ever recall not considering going to college,” Rubio told an audience at Miami Dade College on Monday.

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StateImpact Florida
7:47 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Three Questions: Jeb Bush On The State Of Common Core And Testing In Florida

Former Gov. Jeb Bush visited a Hialeah charter school for National School Choice Week.
Credit Sammy Mack / StateImpact Florida

Former Gov. Jeb Bush visited classrooms, observed students using their iPads, and took questions from a debate class at a high school in Hialeah this week.

His tour of the Latin Builders Association Construction & Business Management Academy high school — which is the first charter opened with a business association — was part of National School Choice Week.

Bush wrapped up the tour in the debate class by answering questions from journalists so the students could see how a press conference works.

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School Discipline
5:48 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

How A Broward County School District Is Rethinking Zero-Tolerance Policies

Some school districts are reconsidering their zero tolerance policies.
Credit Sattva / freedigitalphotos.net

In many schools, zero-tolerance discipline policies dictate harsh punishment — expulsion, suspension and arrest — for breaking rules.

But, as StateImpact Florida has been reporting, some districts are reconsidering zero tolerance after concerns about a rise in the number of children arrested on campus.

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School Grades
10:38 pm
Sun January 19, 2014

Why Miami Jackson Senior High School Wants Its 'A'

Miami Jackson Senior High wants an A grade
Credit Florida Department of Education / FLDOE.org

Florida’s A-through-F system for school grades has been fraught with controversy.

Supporters say the system is a way of holding schools and districts accountable. Critics worry the formula to calculate the grades doesn’t reflect how well schools really prepare children.

Now one school in Miami-Dade County has been told it probably won’t get the A it says it earned.

StateImpact Florida’s Sammy Mack spoke with the Miami Herald’s David Smiley about why Miami Jackson Senior High doesn’t want to accept a B:

 

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StateImpact Florida
4:41 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Jacksonville School Replaces KKK-Affiliated Name

The new name, Westside, is a nod to the neighborhood.
Credit Sammy Mack

Nathan B. Forrest High — the Jacksonville school named for the Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader — has a new name.

The Duval County School Board voted to rename school #241 on Tuesday. Starting in the fall it will be Westside Senior High.

From the moment it was named in 1959, there’s been controversy over Forrest High, home of the Rebels.

In 2008 the school board elected not to rename the majority African-American school.  The votes fell along color lines.

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