Florida roundup: Teacher quality, teacher evaluations, a missing forklift & more

Next steps. Florida should adopt parent triggers and education savings accounts to keep the reform momentum going, writes William Mattox at the James Madison Institute. Florida Voices.

flroundup2More on teacher raises. Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal is “long overdue,” writes the Miami Herald. Teachers deserve it, writes the Tampa Tribune. Agreed, writes the Florida Times Union. A “major leap in his new commitment to education,” writes the Tallahassee Democrat. A good deal if it’s part of a long-term commitment, writes the Fort Myers News Press. A “naked political ploy,” writes the Orlando Sentinel: “The best teacher in Florida will get the exact same raise as the worst teacher in Florida. We’re having trouble seeing the merit in that.”

It clashes with other items on the education wish list, notes StateImpact Florida. “A lot of details need to be worked out,” writes Sunshine State News. A tradeoff for pension ruling? asks Education Week. State Rep. Kevin Rader, D-Boca Raton, has filed legislation for a constitutional amendment that would push teacher salaries to the national average, notes SchoolZone. Florida PTA likes the idea, SchoolZone also notes. Scott talks up his plan at Twin Lakes Elementary in Tampa, reports the Tampa Bay Times, and at Gainesville High, reports the Gainesville Sun.

Teacher evals. Gradebook: Work in progress, lawmakers say. StateImpact Florida: Districts have flexibility, a DOE official tells lawmakers. Associated Press: Race and poverty have little impact on evaluation scores, a DOE official tells lawmakers. SchoolZone: SB 736 may need some work, Gov. Scott says. Florida Times Union: A Duval middle school principal accidentally emails evaluation ratings to her entire staff.

Teacher quality. Gradebook logs in the NCTQ report that gives Florida a B- on teacher prep. So does the Associated Press.

School spending. An audit finds the Broward school district’s transportation department is missing about $1 million worth of equipment, including “two 2009 Ford Explorers worth $20,000 each, six generators worth $300,000, a forklift valued at $20,000 and 250 radios each priced at more than $1,000,” reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The Franklin County school district’s financial crisis could mean 19.5 percent pay cuts for employees, reports the Tallahassee Democrat.

School security. About 75 Tampa police officers respond to Hillsborough High when someone mistakes fireworks for gunshots, reports the Tampa Bay Times. More from the Tampa Tribune. Florida Today interviews Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey about whether local schools are prepared enough.

More Rubio. Daily Caller writes up a short on the senator’s ed reform speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Common Core conversation. StateImpact Florida covers a panel discussion at St. Petersburg College over the new standards.

Mentor mission. The Pinellas school district is looking for 500 more. Gradebook.

Superintendents. Hernando search down to 10 candidates. Gradebook.

Gay Straight Alliance. The ACLU is demanding the Lake County School Board allow one to form at a Leesburg middle school. Orlando Sentinel.

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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.