Florida roundup: Quality Counts, Common Core, rezoning retreat & more

Top 10 again. Education Week ranks Florida No. 6 this year in its annual Quality Counts report. redefinED. Orlando Sentinel. Associated Press.

Teacher evals. StateImpact Florida writes about the new Gates study on the best way to identify the best teachers. SchoolZone notes it. Jay P. Greene rips it. District officials in Palm Beach County don’t feel good about the new, state-mandated system, reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Common Core. Reformers have to win the messaging battle, writes Mike Thomas at the EdFly Blog: “Our success in passing school reforms has had more to do with prevailing in legislative bodies than prevailing in the public arena. This has led to a dangerous neglect of the need for marketing. We now are paying the price for that as our opponents vigorously fight back, defining reform as an attack on public schools that is degrading the quality of education. That this isn’t true doesn’t matter. Sound bites often trump data.”

white flagRezoning retreat. After affluent parents complain, Seminole district officials back away from plans to equalize the number of low-income students at each school. Orlando Sentinel.

Fire them. Hillsborough Superintendent MaryEllen Elia recommends firing two aides and demoting a principal and assistant principal in the aftermath of the drowning of a special needs student. Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Tribune.

More school safety. Tampa Bay Times. StateImpact Florida. Panama City News Herald.

More falling apart. The South Florida Sun Sentinel also writes about a citizens group’s report on deteriorating high schools that serve mostly minority students in Broward.

Forensic audit. A much-anticipated report into what led to a $3.4 million deficit in the Manatee district’s budget will be released Friday, reports the Bradenton Herald.

Teacher conduct. An Okaloosa County teacher accused of multiple instances of sexual harassment involving both students and adults is reprimanded and reassigned, but not fire. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Teacher raises. In the Palm Beach district. Palm Beach Post.

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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.