Florida roundup: Ed reform duel, charter school competition, principal pay & more

duelFlorida reform duel. At Jay P. Greene’s Blog, researcher Matthew Ladner responds to a recent critique of Florida’s reforms from Matt Di Carlo at the Shanker Institute. If you want a serious discussion of what’s working or not in Florida, including the impact or not of school choice, these guys are among the ones to read. Ladner’s conclusion: “The problem for Florida reform skeptics, in short, is that there simply isn’t any other plausible explanation for Florida’s gains outside of the reforms. … With large aggregate gains and plenty of positive research, the reasonable course is not to avoid doing any of the Florida reforms, but rather to do all of them.”

School security. Superintendents discuss the issue with the Senate Education Committee, reports the Tampa Bay Times. More from SchoolZone. Committee chair John Legg says he’s not hot on the idea of arming teachers, reporters News Service of Florida. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gaultier says he’s not hot on the idea of armed officers in every elementary school, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Broward school board members worry about the cost of extra school resource officers, reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Cape Coral charter schools hire one, reports the Cape Coral Daily Breeze. The Hillsborough school board shoots down Superintendent MaryEllen Elia’s plan for armed guards in every elementary school, with some calling it overboard and too expensive, reports the Tampa Tribune. More from the Tampa Bay Times.

Charter school growth. Florida adds 67 charter schools this year, helping the national number top 6,000, according to new numbers from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, reports SchoolZone. More from StateImpact Florida.

Better Burger vs. Bigger Burger. School boards have too big a conflict in interest in approving charter schools. EdFly Blog.

Sushi. Culinary students at Coral Gables High learn how to make it. Miami Herald.

Teacher evaluations. The Pinellas school board tweaks its state-mandated system, but still doesn’t like it. Tampa Bay Times.

Teacher pay. More on the merit pay court challenge. Tallahassee Democrat.

Teacher input. Get more of it. Tampa Bay Times.

Teacher turnover. Too much of it. Fort Myers News Press.

Differential pay for principals. Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho tells school board members: “To accept that a principal is a principal is a principal is denying the way life really works.” Miami Herald.

Not our fault. Palm Beach County Superintendent Wayne Gent and school board chairman Chuck Shaw tell Hispanic business leaders the district has been hamstrung by the Florida Legislature. Palm Beach Post.

Broken budgeting. A forensic audit into Manatee school district spending “is a scathing indictment of a district administration unable to cope with mounting pressures and flawed accounting practices,” editorializes the Bradenton Herald. Some school leaders say district culture created the problems, the Herald also reports. Some want to know why problems weren’t exposed sooner, reports the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

More art. Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti tells parents at a town hall meeting that he’ll find a way to reintroduce more art into the classroom. Florida Times Union.

Educator conduct. Volusia County teacher caught in child predator sting, reports the Daytona Beach News Journal. Palm Beach County teacher accused of DUI and offering sexual favors to an officer, reports the Palm Bach Post. The Florida Times-Union has more about a demoted principal who allegedly failed to follow testing protocol. Hillsborough demotes a principal and fires three other employees in the wake of the drowning death of a student with Down syndrome, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

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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.