Florida roundup: Teacher evals, Common Core politics, Satanic prayers & more

Common Core. To conservatives: “I suggest you give up the bashing of a critically important reform simply because your political enemy endorsed it.” EdFly Blog.

flroundup2Charter schools. The highly successful Pembroke Pines charter school system says it deserves a share of the Broward school district’s capital improvement dollars, reports the Miami Herald. The Pinellas school district will vote yet again Tuesday on whether to shutter the long-troubled Imagine charter school in St. Petersburg, reports the Tampa Bay Times. A Palm Coast charter hopes to bounce back from an F, reports the Daytona Beach News Journal.

Teacher evaluations. Senate President Don Gaetz says the new evals may be too complicated and, combined with other big changes in education, could put the system at risk of imploding, reports the Florida Current. Washington Post ed blogger Valerie Strauss uses Gaetz’s comments to tee off on Florida ed reform.

More on teacher pay. Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal runs up against competing demands, reports the Tampa Bay Times. It “would provide welcome relief” but doesn’t make up for “all of the damage this governor has done to public education,” writes the Times editorial board. Cash shows respect, writes Times columnist Dan DeWitt. It’ll help show teachers are valued, writes the Pensacola News Journal. Give Scott credit for supporting merit pay and across-the-board raises, writes the Daytona Beach News Journal. His commitment needs to be more than a one-time gimmick, writes the Palm Beach Post. A good thing no matter the motivation, writes the Gainesville Sun. Transparent pandering, writes the Panama City News Herald. “Met with skepticism,” reports the Tampa Tribune. Lawmakers should be careful about both teacher raises and a proposal to transform the state retirement system, writes the Ocala Star Banner.

Satanists. They like the school prayer bill Scott signed last year. Really. Coverage from Tallahassee Democrat and Associated Press.

FCAT. Treasure Coast schools spend a lot of time and money on FCAT preparation, reports TCPalm.com. It’s not always the higher-performing schools that get the school recognition money tied to school grades, TCPalm says its analysis shows. Some students and parents say the FCAT is frustrating, TCPalm also reports.

Students with disabilities. The Florida High School Athletic Association says it will embrace a federal directive to provide better access to sports for students with disabilities. SchoolZone.

Technology. Miami-Dade distributes 450 iPads to English language learners as part of a language acquisition program, reports the Miami Herald. A special education teacher in Escambia turns S.S. Dixon Primary School into a digital native’s paradise, writes Pensacola News Journal columnist Shannon Nickinson.

Rick Scott. His visit to Dixie Hollins High  in Pinellas is a bit awkward. Tampa Bay Times.

Math. Higher expectations for Pinellas middle school students need to be backed by adequate support, editorializes the Tampa Bay Times.

Art. A new bill calls for arts partipation to count in school grades. Gradebook.

GEDs. The test fee is going up. Palm Beach Post.

School security. Some South Florida private schools are teaming up to put together crisis management plans. StateImpact Florida. The flawless response from Santa Rosa County schools to a chemical spill shows they’re ready to protect their kids, writes the Pensacola News Journal. An experiment with school bus cameras in Seminole shows a lot of motorists behaving badly, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Miami-Dade educators will receive training to better spot mental illness in teenagers, reports the Miami Herald.

Catholic Schools Week. Nine in Brevard will be hosting open houses. Florida Today.

Educator conduct. A former Flagler County teacher’s aide is sentenced to seven years in prison for possessing child pornography, reports the Daytona Beach News Journal. A Lake County special education teacher accused by her aides of hurting autistic students is reinstated after an administrative law judge deems there’s too little evidence, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

Juvenile justice. A community group in Escambia raises concerns about high rates of arrests and severe punishment for students in the school district. Pensacola News Journal.

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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.