Florida schools roundup: Parent power, special needs students, atheists & more

Parent power. Gov. Rick Scott signs into law a bill that gives parents of disabled students more say over their kid’s education. Orlando Sentinel, Associated Press.

florida roundup logoVirtual schools. Scott also signs the digital learning bill into law. Florida Current.

Charter schools. The Lakeland-based Achievement Academy, a charter for students with disabilities, plans to double enrollment to meet demand. Lakeland Ledger.

Career academies. A new firefighters academy is opening at Wellington High School next fall. Palm Beach Post.

Schools and religion. Atheist materials censored by the Orange County School District contained criticisms of the Bible. Orlando Sentinel.

School grades. The state again considers revision to the system in the face of concerns that the results will be too harsh. Tampa Bay Times. Add Treasure Coast districts to those warning parents about a drop in grades. TCPalm.com. A new task force should retract the most “onerous” changes to the grading system. Miami Herald. Or “trash” the system altogether. Palm Beach Post.

School technology. New technology in the Miami-Dade district is boosting education for students with disabilities. Miami Herald.

School spending. The state approves Manatee’s financial recovery plan. Bradenton Herald. Bay plans to remove 22 old portables this summer. Panama City News Herald.

School districts. Pinellas needs to be more transparent with public records. Tampa Bay Times.

Jeb Bush. Gradebook writes up the latest legislative report card from the Foundation for Florida’s Future.

STEM or Humanities? It’s not either/or. Tampa Bay Times.

Summer learning loss. Pinellas offers a potential remedy for low-income kids. Tampa Bay Times. The New York Times looks at how summer school is changing, using a Jacksonville program as an anchor.

ESOL. Thousands of students statewide languish in ESOL classes for years. Orlando Sentinel.

Students with disabilities. Flagler educators say they found success with inclusion classes for VPK. Daytona Beach News Journal. Broward parent worry that recent cuts will hurt special needs students. Miami Herald.

Substitute teachers. Ocala Star Banner:  “The state Public Employees Relations Commission dismissed a Marion County teachers union’s unfair labor complaint against the school district, stating the district can use full-time certified substitutes at half pay.”

Teacher training. Districts can request colleges to retrain teachers the district deems subpar, under legislative changes made this spring. South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Superintendents. Just-retired Superintendent Bryan Blavatt put Hernando back on an even keel. Tampa Bay Times.

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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.