Florida roundup: Privatization showdown, vouchers and courts & more

Trying to compete with teachers unions for influence. The Miami Herald looks at growing political contributions from charter and virtual school interests, and frames the story this way: “Some observers say the big dollars foreshadow the next chapter of a fierce fight in Tallahassee: the privatization of public education.” Last Friday on redefinED, Doug Tuthill argued that the term “privatization,” as typically used in ed debates, is misleading.

Florida Supreme Court and vouchers. Two separate columns in recent days cited the Florida Supreme Court’s 2006 decision to overturn vouchers as a reason behind efforts to convince voters to deny the retention of three justices. South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo here. UF law professor Joe Little in the Tallahassee Democrat here.

State Board of Education is wrong. So says the Tampa Bay Times, in this editorial about the board’s decision to set race-based achievement goals that include steeper rates of progress for low-income and minority students. More coverage in the Orlando Sentinel here.

Complaints about private school in Pasco. WTSP-Ch. 10 talks to parents who say officials are doctoring tests and report cards at Zephyrhills Christian Academy, a private school that accepts McKay vouchers for disabled students.

Superintendents and tax-credit scholarships. St. Johns County Superintendent Joe Joyner relays his concerns to the Florida Times Union.

New teacher evals cause angst in Pinellas. Tampa Bay Times story here.

Voucher tsunami. (This story from the Topeka Capital-Journal is a couple weeks old, but I didn’t see it until this weekend.) A leading state lawmaker in Kansas, Rep. Marc Rhoades, says vouchers are on their way to the Sunflower State, and he references programs in Milwaukee and Florida: “In my opinion, it’s like a tidal wave that’s coming, and I don’t know that the education establishment can withstand it forever.”

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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.