Florida roundup: School choice, charter schools, Common Core and more

florida-roundup-logoNote: Today’s roundup is longer than usual. It includes noteworthy Florida education news, blog and opinion pieces that appeared during our holiday break. Our Florida roundups are returning to their usual Monday-through-Friday schedule.

Lawsuits. A lawsuit challenging Florida school choice legislation is dismissed.  Associated Press. Miami HeraldEducation Week. News Service of Florida. Palm Beach PostCapitol News ServiceWFSUFort Myers News-PressredefinED. The Tampa Tribune praises the outcome in an editorial. A separate lawsuit challenging the tax credit scholarship program threatens families’ options, a USA Today guest column argues. The program is administered by Step Up For Students, which co-hosts this blog.

School choice. A Tampa Bay Times section on school choice highlights the growth of private and charter schools, the difficulty of getting a seat in some in-demand programs, increased offerings from the Pinellas County school district and expanded private scholarship programs. Duval schools draw attention to non-magnet choice programs. Florida Times-Union. Parents need timely school grades and other information to make the best school choices, the Sun-Sentinel argues in an editorial.

Common Core. States in the market for higher education standards are bound to find some overlap with the Common Core State Standards, the Fordham Institute’s Michael Petrilli writes in the Tampa Bay Times.

Charter schools. Fewer Florida charter schools closed, and other indicators were positive even as scrutiny increased in 2014. Naples Daily News. Florida’s well-known Charter Schools USA may take over as operator of schools in a troubled Pennsylvania district. York Daily Record. A planned Manatee charter pulls its application after the state appeals panel supports its rejection. Bradenton Herald.

Catholic schools. Catholic schools constitute the second-largest school system in Pinellas. Gradebook.

Virtual education. A new virtual learning center aims to provide an alternative to typical home education. St. Agustine Record.

Education politics. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush steps away from his education foundations, in what is seen as a step toward a possible presidential run. Washington PostEducation Week. A husband-wife duo includes a state representative and a school board member who support parental choice and want less bureaucratic regulation of schools. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

PLSAs. An article in National Affairs delves deep into the theory of action behind new parental choice scholarship account programs.

School boards. An Escambia school board member takes issue with the Florida School Boards Association’s system of dues collection. Pensacola News-Journal.

Class size. A Florida TaxWatch report raises grave doubts about the effectiveness of Florida’s class-size restrictions. WLRN.

School grades. The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorializes that local schools “must do better” after the state’s latest release of letter grades. The state’s grading system was a “blunt instrument” that changed too often, and state officials should make improvements as the state moves away from the FCAT, the Leesburg Daily Commercial argues.

STEM. The number of school districts not offering physics rises to 12. Bridge to Tomorrow. Leon County leads the state in adoption of new AP Physics courses. Bridge to Tomorrow.

Budgets. Gov. Rick Scott pledges to raise education spending during his second term. Associated Press.

Teachers Unions. Watchdog.org names FEA president Andy Ford Florida’s worst person of 2014.

Teacher conduct. A judge rules the Broward school board wrongly fired a teacher over unsubstantiated allegations of abusing a special needs student. Sun-Sentinel.

Testing. Testing issues will be on the agenda as lawmakers convene this week. Gradebook. More from Context Florida.

Teacher evaluations. The Hillsborough school board plans a review of its evaluation system. Tampa Tribune.

Bullying. Escambia schools officials raise bullying concerns. Pensacola News-Journal. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi plans an anti-bullying legislative push. Tampa Bay Times.

Superintedents. Lee County’s superintendent receives less-than-stellar marks from the local school board. Fort Myers News-Press.