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Florida roundup: Tutoring oversight, teachers unions, Tony Bennett & more

Tutoring oversight. In the first part of a two-part series on a requirement initially mandated by No Child Left Behind, a  Tampa Bay Times investigation finds at least 36 of 456 tutoring companies in Florida are headed by people with criminal records. In part two, the Times traces last year’s last-minute legislative push to keep the mandate in place.flroundup2

Educator oversight. Sarasota Herald Tribune: “As Bradenton police investigate allegations that a Manatee High School assistant football coach groped a female student, they are also trying to determine who knew about the girl’s claims and why no one notified law enforcement as required by law.”

Teacher bashing? StateImpact Florida story headlined “Teachers Question Why Proposed Pay Raises Come Before Teacher Evaluations” quotes a single teacher who says, “For a while now we’ve been hearing how bad we are. [That] we need to weed out bad teachers, there’s so many bad teachers.” Ocala Star Banner editorial page editor Brad Rogers writes in this column: “There are so many wildly talented, caring and dedicated teachers in Marion County’s schools that unfairly take abuse and blame and criticism for what is wrong with our schools and our society, when in truth they represent what is most right and bright and promising about our schools and our society.”

Teacher pay. Sen. Bill Galvano, chair of the Senate Education Appropriations Committee, suggests Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal for across-the-board raises clashes with performance pay, reports the Florida Current. The South Florida Sun Sentinel also writes up the debate over proposals for higher teacher pay.

Strange bedfellows. The Florida Education Association plans to join the Florida Department of Education in fighting the Florida Times-Union’s request for teacher evaluation data.

Tony Bennett. He talks to North Florida superintendents about teacher evals and notes he encouraged his daughter to become a teacher: ““I don’t want it written on my headstone: ‘Here lies the man that ruined the career his daughter chose.’ ” Tallahassee Democrat.

Teachers unions. The United Teachers of Dade will elect a new leader this week. Miami Herald.

Discipline. Thousands of Florida students are arrested every year for minor incidents, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Part two here.

Dress codes. Several Pinellas high schools consider stricter rules. Tampa Bay Times.

Gays and lesbians. The Lake County School Board needs to end their opposition to the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance club at a middle school, writes the Orlando Sentinel.

School prayer. A Flagler County School Board member wants his district to take advantage of the new state law that opens the door to school prayer. Daytona Beach News Journal.

Paddling. The Citrus County School Board is right to end the policy, writes the Citrus County Chronicle.

Private schools. The Florida Attorney General’s Office files suit against the owner of a Boca Raton private school, claiming he’s misrepresenting the school’s programs and credentials. Palm Beach Post.

Outsourcing. Volusia’s proposal to outsource custodial and grounds maintenance jobs would effect $18 million in salaries and benefits, but it’s unclear how much a privatized effort would cost. Daytona Beach News Journal.

Graduation pathways. Lawmakers want to offer alternatives without reducing rigor. Said Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, chair of the House K12 Education Subcommittee: “We want relevant rigor more than one-size fits all rigor.” SchoolZone.

ESOL. A look at the struggles of English language learners in Pinellas, and the district’s response. Tampa Bay Times.

School spending. The Brevard school board will vote Tuesday on a proposal to shutter four schools as part of a cost-cutting effort, reports Florida Today. Marion schools have cut back on art and music teachers, reports the Ocala Star Banner.

Troops to Teachers. 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 or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at