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Florida roundup: charter school heartburn in Pinellas, school choice showcase in Palm Beach & more

Editor’s note: We’re going to try another something new on redefinED today – a brief, occasional and maybe even daily roundup of some of the latest education stories in Florida. We’re based in Florida; many of our readers are in Florida; and so much is going on down here education-wise – so, we think it makes sense to compile and circulate the latest goings-on to our readers. We’ll focus a lot on school choice coverage, but not exclusively. We might make a quick comment or add a complementary link, but often we’ll just be logging in what the papers and blogs are reporting. So, here goes …

More trouble for an Imagine charter school. School board members in Pinellas County are running out of patience with the Imagine charter school in St. Petersburg, which has earned a string of D and F grades from the state, the Tampa Bay Times reports. We wrote about this Imagine school a couple months ago, after parents successfully pleaded with the school board to give the school one more chance.

Columnist skewers charter schools. Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell takes charter schools to task because they “fail and close at an alarming rate.”

Palm Beach County parents line up for choice. Thousands of parents and students in Palm Beach County flocked last night to a showcase for public school choice options, including magnet and charter schools, the Palm Beach Post reports. Said one parent: “I just hope I can get my kid in.”

Brevard schools see enrollment dip. The state’s 10th biggest school district unexpectedly saw enrollment decline by 760 students this year, according to Florida Today. For what it’s worth, according to our data, the number of students on tax-credit scholarships in Brevard climbed from 1,056 last year to 1,452 this year.

Sarasota County gets its 10th charter school. Story from the Sarasata Herald-Tribune here.

Flap festers over achievement gaps goals. Both Gov. Rick Scott and Gary Chartrand, chair of the Florida Board of Education, issued statements yesterday in response to the board’s decision last week to set different academic achievement targets for black, white, Hispanic and other subgroups. The targets incorporated steeper rates of improvement for groups with lower proficiency rates. Scott statement here. Chartrand statement here. Orlando Sentinel coverage here. Tallahassee Democrat story here.


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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 or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at