A loose-knit network of education activists generally opposed to the direction Florida has been taking its schools recently is attempting to organize into a more potent political force.
The groups include parents, people who want more state funding for schools, and others who are fed up with the brand of testing-based school accountability that Florida has become famous for. Under the umbrella of the Alliance for Public Schools, they are hoping to bolster their fundraising capacity and step up their efforts to influence legislation at the statehouse.
More than half of Florida’s Hispanic and black students at state universities currently eligible for the state’s Bright Futures college scholarship would no longer qualify when new standards take effect on July 1, according to a University of South Florida analysis obtained by the Florida College Access Network.
By comparison, about 40 percent of white and Asian students at state universities would no longer be eligible for the scholarship.
An ambitious Miami-Dade school board member--who happens to be daughter of Miami's mayor--talks up education priorities for state lawmakers. What Raquel Regalado has to say about teacher raises, charter schools and the transition away from F-CAT's.
It's all in the family.
Miami-Dade school board member Raquel Regalado grew up listening to her father Tomás host one of Miami's most popular radio talk shows. She watched as her famous dad won a spot on the Miami City Commission, and eventually become mayor in 2009.
Now, she's got a high-profile job of her own, and may be following in dad's footsteps.
The younger Regalado hosts her own Spanish-language radio program on La Poderosa, 670 AM, and was elected in 2010 to represent district 6 on the Miami-Dade School Board.
Lonnie Robinson fell on hard times in the early 80s with drugs and alcohol. Addiction kept him out of college for decades, and he found himself living under a bridge. During the day, Robinson found solace at a Miami Dade College library in Liberty City, where a reading program changed the future course of his life. He graduated from the college in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
"No other college would accept me," said Robinson, who’s 59. Today, Robinson visits the same library daily, where he hopes to mentor and inspire younger students.