Florida roundup: Praise for parental choice, a high school boot camp & more

Students at the Florida Youth Challenge Academy.

Message from Florida. Skeptics in Louisiana shouldn’t fight expanded school choice and other reforms that boosted student achievement in Florida, writes Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Some especially notable lines from her post on the new EdFly Blog: “No amount of regulatory compliance can hope to match a system of decentralized parental choice. Compliance models focus on school and grade-level average results, while empowered parents focus on the particular needs of their children.”

Ed reform group shuts down. Communities for Teaching Excellence, a group that supports the revamp of teacher evaluations and has a presence in Hillsborough County, is closing shop. The Los Angeles Times reports the Gates Foundation ended its financial support. It paraphrases Amy Wilkins, the group’s chairwoman, as saying CTE “was not hitting its marks in terms of generating press coverage and building community coalitions.”

Rick Scott tries to build bridges with teachers. Story from StateImpact Florida here.

High school meets boot camp. The Florida Times Union profiles an alternative school on the fringes of Jacksonville that gives at-risk teens a second chance with structure: “The cadets begin a highly regimented day at 4:45 a.m. with physical training then breakfast and inspection followed by classes starting at 8 a.m. The classes are segregated by gender except for special assemblies. They participate in tutoring, mentoring, counseling and do chores such as their own laundry or cleaning up the barracks and academy grounds. Lights out is 8:45 p.m.”

Superintendents put tax credit scholarships on list. The Tampa Bay Times Gradebook blog posts the ideas being considered by a committee of seven superintendents charged by Gov. Scott with finding ways to reduce red tape for teachers. Times reporter Jeff Solochek notes, “Many of the ideas under consideration have little to do with teachers and bureaucracy, though.” On the list: “Repeal of the state corporate tax credit scholarship program.”

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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.