The Education Innovator #17
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The Education Innovator
 June 23, 2003 • Number 17
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Sarasota Military Academy
What's New
Deadline dates for Unsafe School Choice Option established; YES program sponsors competition for student epidemiology research projects.
Innovations in the News
As school choice expands in Buffalo NY, educators are taking to the streets to sell themselves and their programs, plus information on school choice, supplemental services and virtual schools.

Sarasota Military Academy, Sarasota, Florida
The Sarasota Military Academy opened its doors this year in Sarasota, Florida, as a public charter school that incorporates a military theme. The school is publicly funded and managed by a Board of Directors. With the vision of being the West Point of high school academies, Sarasota Military Academy (SMA) serves students seeking excellence in a structured, high quality setting. SMA teaches students to cherish the principles of leadership, patriotism, and honor, while embracing high academic standards.

SMA includes grades 9 through 12. Any qualified student in the Sarasota County School District is eligible to attend without any cost for tuition, transportation, or academic services. A wide range of extracurricular activities is offered including aviation, drill team, fencing, and sailing. All students are required to be a member of the JROTC program, although JROTC does not recruit for military service.

Each year, students are required to take math, English, science, social studies, and a language. Students earn 8 credits per year as compared to the usual 6 in most Florida public schools. The Headmaster has said that the Florida FCAT exam results will be used to develop baseline data by which to measure academic performance as the school becomes more established.

Students, or cadets as they are called, are organized into units along military lines and are often taught by retired military personnel. The teachers are highly qualified individuals within their fields. For instance, the director of math and aviation is a retired Navy Captain who was a pilot, has a degree in engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master's degree in computer science, and experience as a senior engineer with Lockheed Martin. Some of the teachers joined the staff through alternative routes to teacher certification, including the Troops-to-Teachers program, and many more teachers would like to join. The popularity of the school among students and parents is strong, as well. Enrollment is expected to jump from 265 cadets this year to 400 in the fall.

The academy's Five Star program requires students to team up with a variety of business partners for internships, tutoring services, and workshops. Partners include national organizations and companies such as the American Lung Association and Pepsi Cola. Local Sarasota businesses are involved also. One local radio station provides career shadowing and internships. The local chamber of commerce also provides tutoring services.

In its first year, the U.S. Army declared SMA an "honor unit with distinction," an unusual commendation for a first-year ROTC program. This recognition has national significance in that all service academies reserve twenty appointments for honor graduates of schools that have been so designated.

The Sarasota Military Academy is funded by a Public Charter Schools Program grant that is administered by the Office of Innovation and Improvement. For more information about the school, go to For information on the Public Charter Schools Program, see To find out about the Troops-to-Teachers program, go to


What's New
Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program

The Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools has published a notice in the Federal Register establishing deadline dates for implementation of the Unsafe School Choice Option requirements of No Child Left Behind. States must identify persistently dangerous schools and then offer their students the opportunity to transfer to a safe school. For more information, see download files PDF (1KB) (June 16)

Young Epidemiology Scholars (YES)

Young Epidemiology Scholars (YES) announces its first competition for high school juniors and seniors. A joint project of the College Board and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, YES aims to encourage students to apply the scientific method of thinking to a variety of problems. Project reports may be submitted anytime up until February 6, 2004. For more information, please see

Funding Opportunities

The grant competition for Parental Information and Resource Centers is now open. Applications for this program are due July 18, 2003. The competition is open to nonprofit agencies, including faith-based and community organizations, or consortia of nonprofit agencies and school districts (though not school districts alone). These centers will, among other things, inform the parents of children who attend schools needing improvement about their options. For more information, see

The Advanced Placement Incentives grant competition remains open. The applications for this program are due July 3, 2003. Incentive program grants are awarded to State educational agencies, local educational agencies, including charter schools that are LEAs, or national nonprofit educational entities to expand access to rigorous coursework for low-income students in grades 6-12. Funding will be used to prepare these students for success in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs. For information on how to apply, go to

The Advanced Placement Test Fee grant competition is also open. The deadline for applications is June 30, 2003. Grants are awarded to State educational agencies to cover part or all of the cost of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate test fees for low-income students. For information on how to apply, go to

The grant competitions for Models in Arts Education and Professional Development for Arts Education are still open. The deadline for both competitions is July 10, 2003. Grants will be awarded to local education agencies, including charter schools that are LEAs, that collaborate with at least one of the following: an institution of higher education; a state education agency; or a public or private nonprofit agency with a history of providing high quality professional development to public schools. For more information about these competitions, see and

The Teaching American History grant competition remains open, as well. The deadline is July 7, 2003. The competition is open to local education agencies (LEAs), including charter schools that are LEAs, in partnership with nonprofit history or humanities organizations. For information about how to apply, go to For a webcast with information about preparing the grant application package, go to

Upcoming Event

The next Innovations in Education Exchange will be on July 10th at 2 P.M. at the White House Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The topic for discussion will be Teaching American History. More information will be forthcoming. To register for this event, email


Innovations in the News

School Choice
As school choice expands in Buffalo, NY, educators are taking to the streets, the airwaves, church pulpits - and even the living rooms of potential students - to sell themselves and their programs. [More-The Buffalo News] (June 19)

Proposals to give poor students in Washington, D.C., federal money to go to private schools open a new chapter in the U.S. debate over school vouchers. [] (June 12)

Supplemental Services
Pass-Word Community Mentoring Inc. in Indiana is turning at-risk children into can-do adults. [More-The Indy Star] (June 12)

Virtual Schools
California's virtual charter school program is now offering Internet classes with certified teachers. The program comes with a free computer, free curriculum, and certified teachers. Teachers visit with each of their 25 students every 20 days. [More-The Sacramento Bee] (June 9)

Western Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School had its third graduation. The graduates had emerged from cyberspace to collect their diplomas and shake the hand of Dr. Trombetta the school's superintendent, whom they had never seen before. [More-The New York Times] (June 12)


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Last Modified: 04/26/2011