Florida roundup: Parent triggers, tutoring oversight, charter school funding & more

Parent trigger. Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, files a bill similar to last year’s, drawing immediate fire from the Florida Democratic Party. News Service of Florida. More from the Tallahassee Democrat.

FL roundup logo snippedMore tutoring oversight. The U.S. Department of Education is disturbed by what the Tampa Bay Times found with Florida’s state-mandated tutoring program, reports Gradebook. Pinellas Superintendent Mike Grego asks Education Commissioner Tony Bennett to scrap the program completely, Gradebook also reports. The Miami-Dade school district also wants the mandate repealed, reports the Miami Herald. A tutoring company owner in Miami-Dade pleads guilty to 47 counts of fraud and grand theft and is sentenced to five years probation, the Herald also reports.

Charter schools. South Florida Sun Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo writes about the money feud that’s pitting the successful Pembroke Pines charter school system against the Broward school district.

More Rubio vouchers. StateImpact Florida logs it in.

Teacher absenteeism. Florida teachers collectively have one of the lowest absentee rates in the country, according to a new Center for American Progress report, notes Gradebook. But with 29.1 percent missing at least 10 days in a 180-day year, it is still high.

Teacher evaluations. The Florida Times Union objects to the Florida Education Association’s request to intervene in the newspaper’s suit against the Department of Education for withholding teacher eval data.

Testing. There’s bipartisan support for a bill that would require school boards to approve district-mandated tests and publicize them on their web sites – an effort that would show parents the contrast with state-mandated testing. SchoolZone.

School security. Pinellas is beefing up security at 10 schools in response to Newtown fears, reports Gradebook. The town of Davie will ask voters if they want to pay to put police officers in all town schools, reports the Miami Herald. Sheriff’s deputies will patrol Flagler’s five traditional elementary schools through the end of the school year, reports the Daytona Beach News Journal.

School spending. The Volusia school district still faces a “financial tsunami” even with projected savings from outsourcing custodial jobs, warns school board member Candace Lankford. Daytona Beach News Journal.

STEM. The Lee school district is joining The Jason Project to boost STEM education. Fort Myers News Press.

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at rmatus@stepupforstudents.org or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at facebook.com/redefinedonline.