Lynn Hatter

News Director

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has been a member of the WFSU news team since 2007 focusing on education and health care. She's an an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiatives.  When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.

The state budget is one of two bills Florida lawmakers HAVE to pass. And an early start to the legislative session means the revenue picture is still unclear.  One chamber wants to wait for it to come into focus. But as Lynn Hatter reports  the other is on the verge of voting on a spending plan to carry the state through the next fiscal year, and staking an early claim to how funding for the state’s many services will be distributed.  

The Florida Department of Education is following up on its controversial ranking of school districts. This time, the state agency will take it a step further, by releasing a comprehensive list of individual schools, rated best-to-worst according to how well students perform on the state’s standardized test. Lynn Hatter reports.

When the Department of Education released its ranking of school districts, Commissioner Gerard Robinson called it the first step in a two-step process.

WTSP

Santorum has branded himself as the  “Christian conservative” candidate over the course of his presidential bid, and during a prayer breakfast at Florida State University, he once again played up his conservative credentials, talking about the role of faith in government, education and politics.

“We will never have limited government, we will continue to be less free, unless we revitalize the institutions of faith and family in America. That’s the real message.”

On the second floor of the state Capitol building a sea of white coats swarm the halls. At different places in the lobby are tables offering bone density screenings, dermatological checks, cholesterol tabs—a mini medical center. The displays showcase some of the services that local pharmacies provide. But the agenda isn’t just to offer some free medical checkups—it’s also meant to promote an issue— getting vaccinated against potentially deadly diseases.

House education budget writers are proposing an extra 100-million dollars over the governor’s proposed billion-dollar education budget increase. Lynn Hatter reports the Senate took up both recommendation’s Thursday and are considering adding even more money to fund the state’s public schools.

 

House education budget writers are proposing an extra 100-million dollars over the governor’s proposed billion-dollar education budget increase. Lynn Hatter reports the Senate took up both recommendation’s Thursday and are considering adding even more money to fund the state’s public schools.

A bill to let teachers to grade parents has cleared its first committee in the House with a 10-3, party line vote. Lynn Hatter reports the bill’s sponsor calls it an attempt to get parents more involved in their children’s education.

As Florida’s economy continues to rebound from the recession, most of the new jobs being created are in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, often called “STEM”.  Much of the workforce to fill those positions is trained in the state’s community colleges, and that’s true for the rest of the nation.  President Barack Obama highlighted the need for STEM-based workforce training in his State of the Union address, and as Lynn Hatter reports, his education secretary talked about it during a trip to Florida’s capital city on Wednesday.

A proposal to give parents a say in what to do with chronically failing schools has cleared its first stops in the House and Senate Tuesday. The bills are part of a nationwide movement to get parents more involved in public school systems. But as Lynn Hatter reports, the measures are being met with both support and opposition from the same parent groups they are trying to bring together.

Four members of the Florida A&M University marching band have been expelled from the university after being charged with misdemeanor hazing. Lynn Hatter reports the dismissals are the latest in the fallout from the death of one of the band’s drum majors back in November.

The four students charged with hazing pledges of a Florida A & M marching band club will have a chance to appeal their dismissal before a student judicial committee.

Florida Department of Education

The Florida Department of Education has released a new ranking scale that rates school districts from highest-to-lowest.  Lynn Hatter reports the rankings are coming under fire from school district superintendents who say it’s not a fair way to look at how well students are doing.

Florida’s unemployment rate has fallen slightly to just under 10-percent, the lowest it’s been in more than two-and-a-half years. Lynn Hatter reports the state’s Republican leaders have wasted no time in claiming credit for the job gains.

In a conference call with reporters Friday, Governor Rick Scott announced the state’s unemployment rate is now 9.9-percent, the lowest it’s been since April of 2009. Scott also took credit for the more than 141-thousand private sector jobs that have spung up since January of last year, saying the rate is a reflection of his policies.

Over the last few years Florida has sought to increase accountability on its public schools. Just last year, legislators approved a new law that basis how much a teacher is paid on how well their students perform in the classroom. But public school officials have long complained that they aren’t the only factor to a student’s success. They say they need help from parents. As Lynn Hatter reports, at least two lawmakers agree with that statement, and have filed bills that put the spotlight on parents.

Florida lawmakers are preparing to crack down on facilities that abuse seniors and people with mental health problems.  Legislators unveiled two bills today (Thursday) that increase penalties and call for more training of staff at Assisted Living Facilities. Lynn Hatter reports the proposals come in the wake of reports of abuse and neglect at those centers.

Some students are voicing their opposition to proposals like increasing tuition for STEM degrees and a bill that would allow the governor to pick the student representative of the board that oversees all 11 public universities. Lynn Hatter reports the group took their complaints to the Board of Governors Thursday.

Lawmakers are continuing their review of higher education and talking with more of the state university presidents. The talks are happening in the House Higher Education Committee, where, as Lynn Hatter reports, differences between the schools are starting to emerge, especially when it comes to issues like tuition increases for STEM degrees. 

Florida’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten and School Readiness programs are designed to help children get ready for kindergarten.  In order to give them an educational jump-start, the state spends more than a billion dollars a year to educate them using private providers. But a recent audit reveals the state may be losing millions to potential fraud.  Lynn Hatter reports a House education committee heard a damaging audit report from state officials that includes charges of financial mismanagement and poor oversight.

State Universities say they have no problem with the governor’s request to see more science and technology degrees produced. But they also note that they need more money to do it. Lynn Hatter reports Representatives from Florida’s 11 public universities spoke before a highly anticipated House Education Committee where recommendations- or legislation—could be produced.

State Universities say they have no problem with the governor’s request to see more science and technology degrees produced. But they also note that they need more money to do it. Lynn Hatter reports Representatives from Florida’s 11 public universities spoke before a highly anticipated House Education Committee where recommendations- or legislation—could be produced.

PECO money dries up

Jan 13, 2012

The state won’t have any money for new school building, maintenance or repair projects for the next two years. Lynn Hatter reports the news comes after Governor Rick Scott told all of the state’s public schools, including charters, to give back unspent allocations from previous years.

Reports of abuse and neglect in some of the state’s Assisted Living Facilities has turned what was once a relatively non-controversial nursing home regulation clean-up bill, into something more.  A similar measure cleared the House last year on a unanimous vote.  But Lynn Hatter reports some lawmakers may be changing their position.

Florida lawmakers want to change the way public hospitals are sold to private entities. The issue was a bitter battle last year that divided the hospital lobby and ultimately failed in the Senate. But as Lynn Hatter report, this year the issue has the support of many of the same groups who opposed it last year. And it comes on the heels of a commission report that says the state should put certain rules in place for selling public hospitals.

Governor Rick Scott has ordered a review of all of Florida's special taxing districts. Scott wants to see whether the districts are serving their purpose, and how they spend money. Lynn Hatter reports it's similar to an effort last year that focused on public hospitals and water management districts.

While Florida prides itself on student progress on the FCAT, when it comes to national reports, educational achievement is stagnant. Lynn Hatter reports that's one of the reasons why Ed Week Magazine dropped the state to 11th in terms of education quality. That's seven spots down from its record fifth place finish last year. The report also cites a drop in state education spending.

Members of the Florida House of Representatives are wasting no time getting to work in shaping a budget for 2012. The chamber’s higher education committee was the first to hear the governor’s budget recommendations, which call for no cuts to the state’s public colleges and universities. But as Lynn Hatter reports, some lawmakers are expressing concern with another request by the governor, who has told the schools to give back 250-million dollars in construction money.

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