Florida roundup: Education reporting, education rankings, Diane Ravitch & more

Florida’s status. Matt Reed, Florida Today’s editorial page editor, takes a look at NAEP data and the most recent Education Week Quality Counts report and concludes: “We obviously have room to improve. But our system is neither starving, as educators always say. Nor is it “broken” or “failing,” as reformers keep telling us.”flroundup2

Florida’s status, Part II. Diane Ravitch’s latest take, after quoting a Florida teacher at length: “There is no Florida miracle. Education has only gotten worse over the past few years, no matter how schools, districts and the state itself game the system. And, contrary to what the media will tell you, it is NOT teachers’ fault, unions’ fault, and I won’t even blame it on the kids or their parents this time. It is the fault of education “reform” led by Jeb Bush et al.”

Charter schools. The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes up the bill that would require school districts to share unused or underused facilities with charter schools. Bad idea, editorializes the Palm Beach Post.

Gays and lesbians. The Lake County School Board considers rules that would keep a Gay-Straight Alliance from forming at a middle school. Orlando Sentinel.

Teacher evaluations. Tampa Bay Times on one impact (or not) of the new system in Hillsborough: “After years of planning and training, observation and deliberation, the first wave of firings has begun under a teaching-improvement project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The tally: Three teachers.”

Special needs students. Some parents in Broward tell the school board the district has put their children on the wrong, less rigorous math. Miami Herald. More from the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Rezoning. Angst eases for some parents in Seminole, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Angst is coming to Palm Beach County, reports the Palm Beach Post.

Retention. In Duval, there’s confusion about how many students benefited from a new program to help struggling readers. Florida Times Union.

School security. Keeping deputies in Lee County elementary schools next year will cost $4 million, reports the Naples Daily News. More from the Fort Myers News Press.

School spending. The forensic audit into the Manatee district’s $3.4 million deficit cost $163,000, reports the Bradenton Herald. Pasco institutes a hiring freeze in advance of a projected $23 million shortfall, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

School relevance. Sen. John Legg, chair of the Senate Education Committee, tells SchoolZone he’s preparing a bill that would better tie K-12 to the workforce and include alternative pathways to graduation.

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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.