Back To School

C.M. GUERRERO / Miami Herald

Miami-Dade County’s 389 public schools opened their doors Monday morning to welcome about 350,000 students for the first day of the new school year.

And at each school, a sworn police officer was there to greet them.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Monday morning that employee attendance was higher than usual and that had not heard of a single issue regarding police deployment across the district. Operations at high schools, the first to open, were very smooth, he said.

Airman 1st Class Stephany Miller / Courtesy U.S. Air Force

Ah, the inevitable sign that summer break is coming to an end: back-to-school advertisements. As beneficial as they are for a parent's wallet, they may be triggering anxiety in their children as they prepare to return to school. 

"For children, as it pertains to school, it's normal to feel scared about something that is coming new," said  Miami-based psychologist Lina Acosta Sandaal,  founder of Stop Parenting Alone, an organization dedicated to sharing information about child development with parents. 

Andrea Perdomo / WLRN News

Most public schools in South Florida provide few supplies to teachers at the start of a new school year.

Dwan Hunt McClain is a teacher at North Miami Senior High School. She said the school gives her a stapler, a pack of paper and maybe some pens. 

"Everything else is on us," she said.

The Education Fund, an organization that was created to find ways for the private sector to help public education, has been providing a space for teachers to get school supplies for 25 years, through a partnership with Ocean Bank.

With Florida’s back-to-school sales tax holiday now underway, some retailers may face an enthusiasm dip as laptops and other electronics are not on the discount menu.

With computers returned to the discount list, Florida retailers are readying for back-to-school shoppers this weekend during the state's sales-tax “holiday.”

The holiday, which will run Friday through Sunday, is a large part of a tax-cut package (HB 7109) that lawmakers passed this spring. The package is projected to provide $91.6 million in tax breaks during the budget year that started July 1.

Holly Pretsky / WLRN

More than 60 volunteers gathered at Unity on the Bay in Miami to stuff backpacks Friday morning--more than 5,000 of them, according to Achilles Ballestas, one of the event's organizers.

The backpacks are for kids in need going back to school in South Florida and Haiti. 

"Recently it's taken a snowball effect," said Ballestas. "It's gone from a couple hundred [per year] to thousands." They've been stuffing backpacks every year for about a decade. 

Volunteers formed an assembly line complete with rulers, pencils, pens, glue sticks, and notebooks.

Florida parents shopping for the new school year are getting a smaller, shorter back-to-school sales tax holiday.

Robin Sussingham / StateImpact Florida

At last count, during the 2013-2014 school year, the number of homeless students had risen to more than 71,000 in Florida's public schools. For many of these children, a brand-new school uniform may be out of reach, though school officials say it makes a big impact on their attitude. One longtime charity in Lakeland is quietly helping to fill that need.

Lisann Ramos / WLRN

This school year in Palm Beach has gotten off to a rough start. Parents complained to the school district that their children’s school buses are off schedule.

This week many students were either late to school or had to be dropped off by their parents. The issue stems from the county school district and the disorganization of their bus program. 

Now the district is trying to make amends. 

On Monday 40 percent of school buses ran late. The district was able to bring that number down to 26 percent.

stevendepolo / Flickr

Palm Beach County teachers soon could be able to stock their classrooms for free.

The Education Foundation of Palm Beach County says it hopes to open a school supply store in the spring for teachers working in Palm Beach County's poorest schools.

Christina Lambert with the foundation says teachers will be able to visit the store often.

“We hope that we’re able to provide an opportunity for these teachers to shop monthly," she says, "and to get about $200 worth of supplies each time they shop.”

Creative Commons / Flickr user Rog01

Some middle schoolers in Broward County were asked to go without their backpacks to school Thursday.

Pembroke Pines police and Broward County Schools determined that an email to a teacher at Silver Trail Middle School alluding to a bomb was credible enough to do a full search of the school.

This threat is the second of its kind: the same message was sent to the same teacher in April. In that instance the school was evacuated

Danny McL/flickr

08/18/14 - Monday’s Topical Currents focuses on back to school anxiety in children.  Yes, some separation anxiety and fear are normal, but how can parents identify genuine anxiety that requires treatment as opposed to plain old back to the books blues and end of summer foot dragging?  What should parents do? We’ll visit with Jill Ehrenrich May… she’s a University of Miami Psychology Professor and Director of the Child and Adolescent Mood and Anxiety Treatment Program.

For decades now, public education has been in “crisis.”  And since the founding of the U.S. Department of Education, we’ve searched for ways to promote student achievement and prepare for global competitiveness.

There is little question as to why. As the workforce becomes more educated, and increasingly globalized, an educated workforce becomes increasingly important. And study after study proves that educational attainment leads to economic mobility.