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SRQ DAILY Aug 19, 2023

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"New College is poised to be a model for schools that seek to return to a classical liberal arts approach to higher education."

- Richard Corcoran, New College of Florida

[Argus]  Student Scores Signal Serious Situation
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

The Argus Foundation last month began to publish scores from the Florida Department of Education comparing the Sarasota School District to the state average and other districts and also comparing our schools within the district. We began with English Language Arts and from there, we compared the data sets for math.

We have heard from many readers that the ranking is deceiving in terms of subject proficiency. You can rank high as you are compared to other counties or the state average, but the actual numbers of how many students are On-Grade-Level or above tell a different and more troubling story, with significant numbers of students below satisfactory or Inadequate in proficiency. This was true for English Language Arts, and you will see it is true for math as well.

Sarasota County ties for 7th in the state for Grades 3-8 math in the percentage of students On-Grade Level or above. Sarasota was 10 points above the state average, but 12 points behind first place Nassau County. Sarasota trailed Nassau, St. Johns, Walton, Collier, Lafayette and Okaloosa counties. It tied with Santa Rosa and Sumter counties. While being tied for 7th looks good, this translates to one third of Sarasota County students who tested in Grade 3-8 as being Below Satisfactory or Inadequate in math.

When you look closer at 3rd Grade math within the district by the average scores of schools, Sarasota County has nine schools below the state overall average. Those elementary schools are Gocio, Wilkinson, Glenallen, Emma E. Booker, Lamarque, Tuttle, Island Village Montessori, Imagine School at Palmer Ranch and Suncoast School for Innovative Studies.

When comparing 3rd Grades by percentage At-Grade-Level or above, one school, Emma E. Booker, ties the state average. Five schools — LaMarque, Tuttle, Island Village Montessori, Imagine School at Palmer Ranch, and Suncoast School for Innovative Studies — are below the state average. Island Village Montessori, Imagine

School at Palmer Ranch and Suncoast School for Innovative Studies have more students who are Below Satisfactory or Inadequate in 3rd Grade Math than those that are On-Grade-Level or above.

Examining 8th Grade math by the average scores of schools, one middle school, Sky Academy Venice, ties the state average score. Eight middle schools are below the state average, they are Woodland Middle, Sarasota School of Arts/Sciences, Imagine School at North Port, Sarasota Military Academy, Booker Middle School, Heron Creek, McIntosh and Triad.

Looking at 8th Grade math by percentage of students On-Grade-Level or above, just under half of Sarasota County middle schools are below the state average. These nine middle schools are Brookside, Sky Academy Venice, Woodland Middle, Imagine School at North Port, Sarasota Military Academy, Booker Middle, Heron Creek, McIntosh and Triad. Six of these schools have more students who are Below Satisfactory or Inadequate in 8th Grade Math than those that are On-Grade-Level or above. These schools are Imagine School at North Port, Sarasota Military Academy, Booker Middle, Heron Creek, McIntosh and Triad.

There is a pattern of schools at the far north and south portions of the county, as well as several charter schools, who are struggling with math. This is a serious situation, especially for our 8th graders who will be facing SAT and ACT testing in a few years.

For more data dig releases, like and follow our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages.  Data Digs will be posted Mondays and Thursdays at 10AM.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

Graphic courtesy The Argus Foundation.

[Higher Education]  New College a Beacon to Attract Elite Faculty to Florida
Richard Corcoran

New College is welcoming not only a record-breaking number of incoming students this fall but also an incredible number of scholars to our faculty.  Since a change in trustees and administration at the first of 2023, which in turn led to a vibrant recommitment to the institution’s dynamic mission, New College has been inundated with curricula vitae from highly qualified and credentialed academics from around the country. 

New College is poised to be a model for schools that seek to return to a classical liberal arts approach to higher education. New College’s liberal arts focus and student-driven learning model are attractive assets for the recruitment of top-tier faculty. Consider the credentials of just a few of the excellent visiting professors that have joined New College this summer.

Richard Izquierdo rubbed elbows with some of the nation’s top law professors and spoke alongside prominent federal judges during his time as a Constitution Fellow at Georgetown Law. He holds a doctorate from Stanford, a Juris Doctor for the University of Pennsylvania and most recently taught political science at SUNY Albany.

Andrew Humphries, a brilliant economics professor with a specialization in Austrian economics, is trading Arizona sunshine to come to the real Sunshine State. He was most recently a post-doctoral research scholar at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State. Before that, he taught graduate-level coursework at his alma mater, George Mason University. 

William Hustwit held tenure at Birmingham-Southern College and was an anchor of the history department at that venerable liberal arts college. He has eagerly embraced the new opportunity ahead of him here in Sarasota. His teaching acumen, research and writing on 20th Century U.S. history make him a marvelous addition to the New College faculty.

Eric Nemarich comes to New College in the early stages of what promises to be a distinguished academic career. A soon-to-be minted Ph.D. from Harvard brings his expertise in medieval Europe, the Middle Ages, and the ancient Mediterranean. 

These are a sampling of the more than 20 new faculty members who have already joined New College. More are coming, and they are among the best and brightest in their fields. 

We are also assembling our first group of Presidential Scholars in Residence. These highly distinguished individuals will impact our entire college community, teaching, offering engaging panel discussions and public lectures, advising on the development of new programs and elevating the profile of New College. These opportunities have allowed us to make connections with some incredible scholars.

The stature of the candidates with whom we have met and others to whom we have already committed is evident in the Presidential Scholar in Residence program. Faculty spotlighting this incredible new program includes, but not limited to: Stanley Fish, Joseph Loconte, and Andrew Doyle.

Stanley Fish brings more than 60 years of scholarship with him to New College. His incredible career has included teaching stops at Duke, John’s Hopkins and Cal Berkeley, where there is a dedicated library archive of his work. He has held the title of Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law, Florida International University since 2005, and Dean Emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Joseph Loconte is a New York Times best-selling author, contributed on-air to NPR for more than a decade, and is among the most accomplished scholars on John Locke working today. 

Andrew Doyle is an internationally renowned comedian who hosts the weekly Free Speech Nation program and holds a doctorate in English Renaissance Literature from Oxford. 

Finally, I would be remiss in not acknowledging the dedicated and demonstrably exceptional faculty who are returning to New College and helping us create a new core-curriculum that will be a model for the country while always extolling the virtues of New College’s unique, student-centered academic structure.

We will continue to identify and hire elite faculty befitting our goal to solidify New College’s stature as the best liberal arts university in the world.

Richard Corcoran is interim president of New College of Florida. 

[Gulf Coast]  They Call it the Cultural Coast for a Reason
Phillip P. Lanham

It’s no secret our community’s world-class arts and cultural organizations, performances and collections have earned Sarasota County the reputation as Florida’s “Cultural Coast.” Around the country, this community is known as a haven of arts and culture, an eclectic blend of exceptional organizations that inspire and educate audiences year-round. 

As you may have guessed, I am excited to experience my first arts season in Sarasota. I learned many of our local arts organizations offer experiences accessible to all, including the My Gardens Program at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens which provides free memberships to both the downtown and Historic Spanish Point campuses for low-income families to enjoy beautiful green spaces and innovative art exhibitions. This certainly aligns with our vision at Gulf Coast Community Foundation of thriving communities with opportunities for all. 

The arts are an important economic driver in our community. They generate local and state taxes, provide jobs, drive tourism and have a multimillion-dollar direct economic impact, in addition to world-class educational programming for students of all ages. The arts meaningfully enhance the quality of life in our region.

We established our Arts Appreciation Grant program in 2014 to support the cultural and economic contributions of eight of our region’s cornerstone arts groups. The program has been expanded over the years to now include 13 arts and cultural institutions:  Asolo Repertory TheatreCircus Arts ConservatoryEmbracing Our DifferencesFlorida Studio TheatreHermitage Artist RetreatMarie Selby Botanical GardensRingling MuseumSarasota BalletSarasota OperaSarasota OrchestraVenice SymphonyVenice Theatre and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

The Arts Appreciation Grants provide annual unrestricted funding which allows each organization to focus their time and talent on what matters most, their artistic missions. In June, we shared our Board of Directors approved nearly $40 million in grants to our nonprofit partners which included $710,000 in Gulf Coast’s Arts Appreciation Grants. 

The upcoming arts season is filled to the brim with exciting opportunities to be entertained, educated, and even challenged. The new season includes the return of the Hermitage Artist Retreat’s Sunsets at Selby Gardens that features performances and explorations of works-in-progress by Hermitage artists-in-residence and alumni. Other season highlights include Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s much anticipated world-premiere musical Ruby written and directed by Nate Jacobs, the Venice Symphony is celebrating their 50th anniversary with a stellar lineup of concerts beginning in November, and the Venice Theatre’s season includes its beloved production of A Christmas Carol. The Sarasota Orchestra is also celebrating a milestone this season. Its 75th-anniversary lineup includes five unique series that are sure to move and inspire us all.

Our Strategic Engagement Manager Kelly Borgia, who manages our Arts Appreciation Grants, shares, “The coming season delivered by our dynamic Arts Appreciation Grant recipients is not to be missed! There is something for everyone this season,” said Borgia. “In the spring of 2024, we’ll see both the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and the Sarasota Art Museum present Skyway 2024: A Contemporary Collaboration which is a celebration of artistic practices in the Tampa Bay region. The Sarasota Ballet will travel to Venice to present The Nutcracker in mid-December and Embracing Our Differences’ 2024 exhibition at the Bayfront Park is not to be missed.”

I hope to see you in the audience at an upcoming performance soon. 

Phillip P. Lanham is President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

Photo courtesy The Venice Symphony.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Eco Engineers , April 12 – September 3, During museum hours

Eco Engineers are plants and animals that profoundly impact their ecosystem. Through their presence or behavior, eco engineers create microhabitats, or unique areas within an ecosystem. Other species have taken notice of these microhabitats and decided to move in! In this exhibition, explore nine of Florida’s eco engineers and discover why our landscape wouldn’t be the same without them. Eco Engineers is a bilingual (English and Spanish) special exhibition created by our own Museum curators. Included with museum admission. The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton, bishopscience.org.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Lorna Bieber, Natural World at The Ringling , May 20 – October 15, Museum hours

The Ringling presents a solo exhibition of works by Lorna Bieber in May that includes two new pieces making their debut in the Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery for Contemporary Art. Her artwork first and foremost encourages us to indulge in the pleasures of looking and discovering anew the details of the visual world. Her artistic practice is grounded in appropriating, recycling, and manipulating imagery. The work reminds us of the image world that inundates our daily existence. Our experience of reality is mediated through a barrage of photographic digital images that supplants our connection to the natural world. Yet, Bieber is less interested in a critique of this condition than she is in offering her work as an antidote, a way to inspire viewers and reconnect with our shared sense of wonder. Included with museum admission. The Ringling Museum, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota, ringling.org.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Laser Light Nights at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature , May 25 – September 2, 7pm and 9pm

Break out the big hair and acid-washed denim because Laser Light Nights are back at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night from May 25 through September 2, we are rocking out to some of your favorite artists in the Planetarium! A variety of food options and drinks are available for purchase onsite with cash or card. Tickets are $15. The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St W., Bradenton, bishopscience.org.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Bradenton Public Market , June 24 – August 26, 9 am to 2 pm

Realize Bradenton is pleased to announce the continuation of the Bradenton Public Market through the summer months. The summer Markets are scheduled once a month on the last Saturdays of each month, on June 24th, July 29th and August 26th on Old Main Street and 3rd Ave West in Bradenton. Our Market family is excited to see their customers throughout the summer while still enjoying some well-earned time off. The Market was founded in April of 1979 in a Downtown Bradenton parking lot. Over the past 44 years, the Market has grown and evolved to fill Old Main Street with produce, local artisans, and prepared foods. realizebradenton.com/market.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Fresh Harvest Farmers Market at Wellen Park , June 25 – December 29, 9 am to 1 pm

Visit Fresh Harvest, the newly launched weekly farmers market in Downtown Wellen. Fresh Harvest offers a selection of local goods from nearly 40 local vendors. Fresh Harvest takes place every Sunday in Downtown Wellen from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Attendees can peruse different vendor booths and stock up on a variety of goods. Vendors will offer a wide variety of locally grown and produced food, including herbs, spices, cut flowers, teas, canned and preserved fruits and vegetables, syrups, baked goods, pickled foods, fresh seafood, meats, poultry, eggs, milk and prepared food and beverages. A limited selection of craft vendors also participate in the farmers market. For a listing of participating vendors and more information on Fresh Harvest Farmers Market, visit wellenpark.com/events/fresh-harvest-farmers-market. Downtown Wellen, 19745 Wellen Park Blvd., Venice.

[SOON]  FOOD: Forks and Corks Food and Wine Festival , January 25 – January 29, Various times
The 2024 Forks and Corks Food and Wine Festival, hosted by the Sarasota Manatee Originals, will take place January 25 to 29. Grand Tasting tickets go on sale in October. A full five day slate of food and wine themed fun is planned, including the University Master Classes, wine dinners at area restaurants, wine shop tasting events, a trade tasting and the much anticipated Grand Tasting at The Ringling Museum of Art. Due to the unprecedented demand for tickets, ticket sales for The Grand Tasting launch on two consecutive Tuesdays: On October 10 at 9 a.m. there is a presale of the VIP and Early Access tickets and on October 17 at 7 p.m. General Admission tickets will be available and historically have sold out in a matter of minutes. All Forks and Corks Grand Tasting tickets will be available online only. For more information, please visit www.eatlikealocal.com.
[SOON]  GALA: Night of Hope and Healing with the Child Protection Center , November 9, 6 to 9 p.m.

Join us in bringing hope and healing to the fight against child abuse in our community. Night of Hope and Healing will feature a wide selection of tastings from crowd favorite restaurants, fantastic live and silent auctions, and most importantly, you will leave the event knowing that you are bringing change, protection, and hope to the most vulnerable children of our community. Sponsoring this event will expose your business to a compassionate, caring, and loyal community while providing the necessary support to give local children access to life saving services. These partnerships provide hope in raising awareness, hope in bringing comfort and joy, and hope in building a world where kids can just be kids. We look forward to seeing you there. Plantation Golf and Country Club, 500 Rockley Blvd., Venice, https://cpcsarasota.org/events/night-of-hope/.

[SOON]  GALA: Resilient Retreat Farm to Table , November 5, 4 pm

Please join us for the annual Resilient Retreat Farm to Table dining experience on Sunday, November 5, 2023 at 4:00 pm. The funds raised at the event are critical to Resilient Retreat to continue to serve survivors of trauma and first responders and helping professionals. Come immerse yourself among the majestic oaks at 84 acres of conservation land on the retreat. In true farm to table fashion, our local chefs will craft a tasting menu featuring the very best local seasonal foods. Dine under the stars nestled among the beautiful live oaks while experiencing al fresco farm to table dining. Farm to Table proceeds will benefit the Resilient Retreat mission to empower survivors of trauma to thrive through self care and community. Visit https://givebutter.com/farmtotable2023 for more information and to purchase tickets.

[SOON]  GALA: 21st Annual Buddy Walk with Bringing Up Down Syndrome , October 28, 10 am to 2 pm

Bringing Up Down Syndrome will hold its 21st annual Buddy Walk on Saturday, October 28th from 10 am to 2 pm at Bayside Community Church, located at 15800 FL64 in Bradenton, Florida. This exciting event is the largest Down syndrome awareness and celebration experience in the area. This event will feature live music with celebrated vocalist and DJ, MoTown Ross Brown, silent auction, carnival games, a 50/50 raffle, food and beverages, and a variety of other family friendly activities. All donations support programs and services offered to over 250 families across Manatee and Sarasota counties. Register now at manasotabuds.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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