Florida schools roundup: Grades, charters, unions and more

IMG_0001.JPGSchool grade concerns: The Seminole County School Board is urging Gov. Rick Scott to suspend the issuing of grades this school year due to concerns about the reliability of the Florida Standards Assessment tests. Superintendents around the state have been arguing that school grades issued using results from the new tests will be unfair and inaccurate. Orlando Sentinel.

Charters and grades: State Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, proposes a bill that would prohibit charter schools from denying admittance due to a student’s previous academic performance. Gradebook.

Charter school query: Mason Classical Academy is being investigated by the Department of Children and Families for alleged “mental injury” and “inappropriate supervision.” The Collier County charter school was founded by two school board members. Naples Daily News.

Unions and Supreme Court: The Florida Education Association could become a model for teachers unions if the U.S. Supreme Court ends the  collection of union agency fees in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case. A decision is expected in 2016. Education Intelligence Agency.

Education behind bars: States should do more to educate young people in jail, the Justice Center at the Council of State Government argues after surveying services in all 50 states.

School contracts: Pinellas County teachers overwhelmingly reject a contract proposal, while paraprofessionals approved their contract and will get a 4 percent raise. Tampa Bay Times.

Teacher openings: Brevard County school officials are struggling to replace retiring teachers. Florida Today.

Facilities issues: The Broward County state attorney is criticizing school district facilities officials for continuing “bad habits” they were faulted for by a grand jury in 2011. Sun-Sentinel.

Extortion accusation: Two former Palm Beach County school officials testify that community activist Clarence Freeman threatened them with exposure for past actions. Freeman goes on trial in January for allegedly trying to extort almost $1 million from former School Superintendent Wayne Gent. Palm Beach Post.

Common Core debate: Common Core standards are debated; the pro argument stresses higher expectations, and the con argument says a national curriculum leaves too many students behind. Palm Beach Post.

Stadium deal: Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho meets with soccer star David Beckham about their partnership in a proposed $200 million Major League Soccer stadium. The school system would own the stadium to shield it from property taxes, and in return have access to it for educational and school events. Miami Herald.

Aviation emphasis: Jacksonville’s Ribault High School is home to the new Aviation Academy, made possible by a $300,000 grant from JP Morgan Chase. Florida Times-Union.

Magnet school interest: In an online survey, Pasco County parents and students express the highest interest in establishing magnet schools for STEM subjects and performing arts. Gradebook.

Graduation venue: Students at Buchholz, Eastside and Gainesville high schools are protesting plans to have graduation ceremonies at Citizens Field, saying it’s “rundown and messy.” Gainesville Sun.

School uniforms: A Volusia County parent is starting a petition opposing mandatory school uniforms, which were approved this week by the school board for the 2016-2017 school year. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

New Montessori school: Winter Haven is getting its first Montessori school, which expects to have 214 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Lakeland Ledger.

Student discipline: Spanish River High School administrators acted improperly in suspending a Spanish River High School student for taking alcohol on a field trip, the Palm Beach County schools’ inspector general rules. Under the system’s rules of progressive punishment, a first offense merits probation. Sun-Sentinel.

Student enrichment: A record-setting aviator lands a helicopter at three South Florida elementary schools to talk about their goals and stir their interest in science and math. Sun-Sentinel. Booker T. Washington High School partners with the University of West Florida to create a writing lab. Pensacola News Journal. Florida Teacher of the Year Diane McKee shares her story of becoming a teacher after years in the corporate world with Saint Leo University education honor students. Saint Leo University.