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SRQ DAILY Aug 20, 2022

"It is important that we urgently and immediately support our teachers and students with classroom resources and measurable curriculums that help these specific students. We can’t afford to wait months on end for studying these numbers and School Board presentations. "

- Christine Robinson, Executive Director of The Argus Foundation

[Argus]  Sarasota Students Improved Overall, But Minorities Left Behind
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

Sarasota County Schools fared well in school grades this past year. We maintained an “A” grade and are in a three-way tie for fifth in district rankings. Recently, race and subgroup information has been published by the Department of Education and we are able to take a deeper dive into how our district is serving different types of students.

While we have seen some improvements in scores, we are still seeing minorities continuing to score poorly in comparison to white students and we need to focus in on these kids for our future. 

The school district received a 65% total of percentage points to earn its “A”. White students earned an “A” score of 69%, exceeding the district total percentage by four points.  When you look at Black/African American students, their grade did not change, they are still at a “C” grade and scored 50%. While this was a 5% improvement from the previous year, and the gap between whites and blacks shrunk 3%, Blacks/African Americans are 19% behind white students. 

A deeper dive into assessments scores reveals a much deeper racial disparity. The Department of Education has 5 levels of results. They specifically target the scores for Level 3 and up. The state defines Level 3 as “Satisfactory,” Level 4 as “Proficient,” and Level 5 as “Mastery.” Incidentally, the “Satisfactory” level still means that the student, “may need additional support for the next grade/course.”

In English Language Arts, white students had 68.6% in the Level 3 and up range.

Black students had 36.9% in the Level 3 and up range in English Language Arts. 

The English Language Arts achievement gap is at 31.7% in Sarasota County. Almost 2/3rds of black students had scores that the state deemed “Below Satisfactory” at Level 2 or “Inadequate” at Level 1. To give it perspective, 37.2% of black students scored at the lowest level and were deemed “Inadequate.” According to the state, these students are “highly likely to need substantial support for the next grade/course.”

The racial disparity in math was even larger. White students had 71.7% who scored at a Level 3 and up. Conversely, Black/African American students had 36.4% score at Level 3 and up. That is a 35.3% achievement gap between whites and Blacks/African Americans in math. The percentage of Blacks/African Americans who were at a Level 1 or “Inadequate” in math was at 39.8%.

Hispanic students earned a “B” again this year and earned a 59% score. They improved 2 points from last year. The gap between whites and Hispanics was stagnant in comparison to the previous year, it remains at 10%. 

Hispanic students had 52% of students who were at Level 3 and up in English Language Arts. That makes a 16.6% Achievement Gap with white students. There were 23.2% of Hispanic students at Level 1 or “Inadequate.”

Math also had a larger achievement gap for Hispanic students vs. white students. The gap stood at 17.6%. Hispanic students at Level 3 and up stood at 54.1%. Over a quarter of Hispanic students were at Level 1 or “Inadequate,” that percentage was at 26.5%.

These numbers need to be addressed with laser focus, and not just in prevention for incoming school age children, but in helping the current students who were a part of these scores. It is important that we urgently and immediately support our teachers and students with classroom resources and measurable curriculums that help these specific students. We can’t afford to wait months on end for studying these numbers and School Board presentations.       

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

[Gulf Coast]  Exercise Your Vote this August Primary Election
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

At Gulf Coast Community Foundation, we know the critical importance of making your voice heard at the ballot box. Sarasota County voters have the opportunity to vote in an important election right around the corner. The Aug. 23 Primary Election occurs in advance of the Nov. 8 General Election. As of today, there is still an opportunity to vote early, return your vote-by-mail ballot, or prepare your plans for election day voting. We encourage all registered voters eligible for voting in this election to vote using one of the three convenient methods (by mail, early voting, or voting in person on election day). 

Florida is a closed primary state, which means only voters who are affiliated with a political party may vote in that party’s primary. Voters with minor or no party affiliation may only vote in nonpartisan races, such as school board and municipal offices, or in universal primary contests. You can learn more through the Sarasota County Supervisor of Election’s guide to the Primary here.

Early voting for the Aug. 23 Primary Election is open this weekend – today (Saturday, Aug. 20) and tomorrow (Sunday, Aug. 21), from 8:30am to 4:30pm at the following locations (Sarasota Elections Office, Venice Elections Office, North Port Elections Office, North Sarasota Public Library, Fruitville Public Library, and The Devyn Event Center). The final day of early voting is tomorrow, Sunday, Aug. 21.

Today is too late to mail back your vote-by-mail ballot in order for it to reach the elections office in time to be tabulated.  You may return your vote-by-mail ballot in person inside any Sarasota County elections office until Aug. 22. This includes weekends and the hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5pm On election day (Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022), you can return your vote-by-mail ballot from 7am to 7pm at any three of the Sarasota County elections offices. 

On election day, if you have not yet voted, you should vote at your assigned polling place. Check your Voter Information Card to make sure you arrive at your proper polling place. Polls are open 7am to 7pm on election day. The Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections office notes that there is a permanent change of polling location in Precincts 205 and 207 and return of Precincts 211 and 213 to their original polling location, effective beginning with the Aug. 23 Primary Election. Precincts 211 and 213, which had been temporarily moved for the March 2022 special election, will return to St. Armands Key Lutheran Church, 40 N. Adams Dr., Sarasota. The new polling location for precincts 205 and 207 is McCown Towers, 1300 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota. 

People often say your vote is your voice. The right to vote is a cornerstone of our democracy. Every election and every vote is important, and I hope this information will help guide you in voting in the Aug. 23 Primary.

Mark Pritchett is President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

[SOON]  GALLERY: The Ringling: Eleanor Merritt: Remembrance , February 18 – August 21, Museum hours.

The Ringling is pleased to present an exhibition that celebrates the life and artwork of Eleanor Merritt from February 18, 2022 to August 21, 2022. Eleanor was a dedicated volunteer at The Ringling for many years as a docent and Board member. She also served as president of the Venice Art Center and was active in other arts organizations as well. Eleanor passed away in 2019 leaving a legacy of art and public service. This exhibition is dedicated to her spirit and creativity and represents a small sample of a significant body of work the artist created over her long career. Beginning with an early work from the 1950s Untitled (Seated Figure) and concluding with her last painting Blue Embrace of 2018, the exhibition highlights her creative use of materials, movement between figuration and abstraction, and her commitment to women’s rights. The works in the exhibition come from the artist’s estate and from a few prestigious private collections. The artist’s daughter, Lisa, and artist Mike Solomon were critical guides in the development of this exhibition. 

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Florida Studio Theatre: Smoke & Mirrors , August 3 – August 21, Varies.

Hamilton Orr will stop at nothing to get what he wants. A top Hollywood director, Hamilton comes up with deadly scheme to gain control over a multi-million-dollar film. He just needs to persuade the movie’s screenwriter, Clark, to get onboard. And make sure that Barbara, his wife, plays her part. When his plot doesn’t go as planned, Hamilton comes face-to-face with the wily local sheriff, Leroy. Smoke and Mirrors keeps the audience guessing (and laughing) until the end. Smoke and Mirrors by Will Osborne and Anthony Herrera will play beginning August 3, 2022 in FST's Gompertz Theatre. Run Time is 2 hour and 10 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.

Florida Studio Theatre's Gompertz Theatre

[SOON]  THEATER: Manatee Performing Arts Center: HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING! , August 11 – August 23, Varied

Wouldn’t it be great if you could become successful with a single book? Well, J. Pierrepont Finch seems to have hit the jackpot. “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” follows Finch from being a common window washer to a high executive with the help of a small book. However, does that book help with all the problems that he faces to reach his dream? Does it answer how to handle betrayal, caffeine addiction, or love? With music by Frank Loesser (composer of “Guys and Dolls”) we’ll follow Finch and his struggle to balance business power and true love. For more information visit www.manateeperformingartscenter.com, Ticket Office

Manatee Performing Arts Center , 502 Third Avenue West Bradenton, FL 34205

[SOON]  GALLERY: The Ringling: Metadata: Rethinking Photography from the 21st Century , March 6 – August 28, Museum hours.

The exhibition features work from the past decade by an international selection of artists and visual activists that are working to make palpable the unseen information, or metadata, that undergirds the image regime. This includes not just the tags or descriptors attached to image files, but the power relationships, biases, and economic interests that are not always visible in the image itself. The exhibition emphasizes an expanded concept of photographic practice that includes research-based projects, installation, conceptual work, and activism as well as analog and digital photographs. Artists featured are Mohsen Azar, Viktoria Binschtok, Mladen Bizumic, Joy Buolamwini, Jason Lazarus, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Lilly Lulay, Trevor Paglen, and Penelope Umbrico. Metadata: Rethinking Photography in the 21st Century will be held at The John and Mable Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida from March 6 through August 28th, 2022. The exhibition is curated by Christopher Jones, Stanton B. and Nancy W. Kaplan Curator of Photography and Media Art.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Florida Studio Theatre Improv: We're Doomed , August 13 – September 24, 7:30pm

FST Improv Presents: We're Doomed Beginning August 13 on Saturdays at 7:30pm. In a world where blockbusters come and go, FST Improv entertains with an unforgettable, original, and fully improvised motion picture! The cast of We’re Doomed will perform an improvised horror movie based on a title provided by the audience! We’ll leave the fancy equipment behind as we use unique staging, special effects and onstage acrobatics to recreate the excitement and magic of the silver screen. You’ll even get to see improvised previews of upcoming attractions.

Florida Studio Theatre's Bowne's Lab

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: To Rum or Not To Rum: That is Not Even a Question , August 31, 5-6 pm

Hamlets Eatery and Siesta Key Rum have come together to create a fun and delicious experience on Wednesday, August 31 from 5-8 pm. Chef Lisa of Hamlet's Eatery will tantalize your taste buds with a five-course tasting menu paired with Siesta Key Rum craft cocktails. Between dishes Chef Lisa and Nicole of Siesta Key Rum will guide you through the pairings. Live Steel Drum music by Nax Steel throughout the evening. Timeline: 5-6 pm Enjoy Siesta Key Rum Tasting, a craft cocktail and live steel drum music; 6pm: Dinner; 8pm: Take your full and happy belly home. Hamlets Eatery is located at 821 Apricot Ave in Sarasota. The event will be outside under a covered patio with fans. Casual attire. Must be 21+ years of age. Tickets are $80 per person and must be purchased in advance. Non-refundable. Purchase tickets here: https://bit.ly/ToRumOrNotToRum For more information call 941-445-1938. Cheers!

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Bookstore1Sarasota: Author Talk & Book Signing with Jason Cannon , September 3, 12pm-1pm

This Above All: How to Live an Artistic Life. Author Talk & Book Signing with Jason Cannon. Bookstore1Sarasota 117 S. Pineapple Ave. Sarasota, FL 34236 September 3rd, 2022. 12pm-1pm. Price $0 – $8. Is there something holding you back from what you know you can do? From who you know you can be? Are you always starting, but never finishing? Your novel? Your music? Your painting, poetry, sculpture, or play? Do you struggle to maintain passion and balance in your work, your exercise routine, or your relationship? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then this book is for you. Come participate in a Q&A with Jason, buy the book, and get it signed. For more information visit www.sarasotabooks.com

Bookstore1Sarasota , 117 S. Pineapple Ave. Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Farmers' Market at Lakewood Ranch , January 2 – December 25, 10am-2pm

The Farmers’ Market at Lakewood Ranch is home to more than 90 curated vendors of the region’s best food and flavors, located at Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch. It takes place every Sunday from 10am to 2pm at Waterside Place. It’s your weekend destination for organic produce, meat, poultry, seafood, bread, pasta, juices and prepared foods. Stay up to date on vendors and events by visiting TheMarketLWR.com.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Forty Carrots Family Center 20th Annual Free Virtual Community Speaker Event , September 21, 7:00 pm

Registration is open for Forty Carrots Family Center’s 20th annual free educational community speaker event Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine, presented in partnership with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The virtual presentation will feature educational psychologist and best-selling author Michele Borba, Ed.D. at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21st. The event is free and advance registration is required. Michele Borba’s latest book, Thrivers, is a sharply insightful, science-backed guide that helps parents and educators teach the essential character traits kids need to become “thrivers” – young people who flourish in rapidly changing, digitally-driven and uncertain world. Borba will identify seven teachable strengths that will safeguard kids for the future, offering practical “how-to” strategies and ideas for everyday activities that build up kids’ strength, resilience, happiness, and success. Certificates of Attendance and CEU’s will be available. The previous 19 speaker events have reached nearly 14,000 parents, professionals, and educators in our area. To register for this free virtual community event visit www.fortycarrots.org, email events@fortycarrots.com or call (941) 365-7716. RSVP is required and registration is open at www.FortyCarrots.org.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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