Florida roundup: charter schools, tax credit scholarships and a question about parent trigger

Charter schools. Brooksville’s first charter school, one with a STEM focus, will open this fall, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Competition from charter schools is forcing the Palm Beach County school district to think harder about its needs and priorities, reports the Palm Beach Post. Charters are also sparking debate among Palm Beach school board members about how much help they should give struggling charters, the Post also reports. An op-ed in the Miami Herald raises concerns about charter schools’ diversity and financial incentives. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune profiles the principal of the Imagine charter school that is trying to break free from the parent company.

Magnet schools. The Tampa Tribune applauds the Hillsborough school district for creating a magnet tied to the maritime industry.

Alternative schools. Troubled girls get a fresh start at a sheriffs’ youth  ranch in Polk County. Orlando Sentinel.

FL roundup logo snippedTax credit scholarships. Great back-and-forth between scholars Kevin Welner at NEPC and Jason Bedrick at Cato, with Florida’s program a big part of their debate. Cato at Liberty.

School choice. It’s often partisan. Sunshine State News.

Parent trigger. Education Commissioner Tony Bennett raises a constitutional question. The Florida Current.

Jeb Bush. He’ll be in Maine later this month at an education summit called by Gov. Paul LePage. Portland Press Herald.

Diane Ravitch. She’s formed a new advocacy group that hopes to pull in the likes of Florida’s Fund Education Now. SchoolZone. More from the New York Times.

Rick Scott. The governor is going to have a tough time balancing the competing interests of teachers unions and Republican lawmakers, reports the Tampa Bay Times. PolitiFact gives Democrats a “false” for claiming that Scott said education was not a “core function” of the state.

Common Core. Senate President Don Gaetz says Florida lost a year  because the DOE “sort of flailed around,” but should meet the new deadlines under Tony Bennett, reports StateImpact Florida. Use the force, writes Mary Laura Bragg at EdFly Blog.

FCAT. Stress-reducing advice from a licensed psychologist. Lakeland Ledger.

STEM. Girls are being encouraged to excel in academic areas considered to be boy-dominated. Bradenton Herald.

AP. Growing numbers of test takers in Flagler and Volusia reflect a statewide trend. Daytona Beach News Journal.

Diplomas. They’re the “ticket to anything,” says one inmate after a graduation ceremony at a women’s prison. Ocala Star Banner.

School spending. Pinellas’ administrative ranks have slimmed slightly, reports Tampa Bay Times. The Broward school district has found many of the $1 million worth of transportation items that couldn’t be located during a January audit, reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The Miami-Dade school district spends about $22 million a year to educate students who come from other countries, reports the Miami Herald.

School security. Teachers with guns won’t help, editorializes the Bradenton Herald. Bus drivers are trained to deal with violent situations, reports the Naples Daily News.

School discipline. Escambia Superintendent Malcolm Thomas says he welcomes scrutiny of the district’s suspension policies, in the wake of complaints that it’s stacked against black students. Pensacola News Journal.

School atmosphere. Immokalee-area schools have endured at least 10 student deaths in the past two years, reports the Naples Daily News. Climate surveys in Pasco point to schools with tension among staff, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

School closings. There’s a growing backlash to the Brevard school board’s decision to close three schools in the face of budget cuts, reports Florida Today. Florida Today columnist Matt Reed points to test data that shows black students doing particularly well at one of the schools marked for closing.

School grades. Clay County’s only D-rated school says it’s better than the grade would suggest. Florida Times Union.

Teacher pay. Senate President Don Gaetz reiterates that he does not support Gov. Rick Scott’s plan for across-the-board pay raises for teachers. Central Florida Political Pulse.

Teacher shortage. ESE teacher applicants in Hillsborough are hard to find. Tampa Tribune.

Educator conduct. The state attorney’s office will decide whether to file charges against a Manatee High coach accused of inappropriate behavior with female students. Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Privatization. Bay Superintendent Bill Husfelt makes the right call in not outsourcing bus services, editorializes the Panama City News Herald.

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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.