Florida roundup: School grades, charter schools, Space of Mind & more

Charter schools. What happened to the Ben Gamla charter school in Pinellas is a “study in bad charter school governance.” Choice Words. Parents try to figure out what to do now that a struggling charter school in Deland is closing. Daytona Beach News Journal. Ditto for the parents of a charter school in Lutz. Tampa Tribune. After 22 years in traditional public schools, a local principal is hired to lead the city of Cape Coral charter school system. Fort Myers News Press.

florida roundup logoHomeschooling. The Palm Beach Post takes a look at Space of Mind, a pricey but fascinating home-school school that insists it’s not a school.

Tax credit scholarships. The number of parents seeking them grows in Highlands and beyond. Highlands Today.

School grades. Education Commissioner Tony Bennett is recommending another year of a “safety net” provision so grades don’t drop more than one letter grade. Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post, Orlando Sentinel, Florida Times Union, Tampa TribuneTCPalm.comAssociated PressOther states are watching the goings-on. Miami Herald. Another story on how everyone is expecting grades to drop. Sarasota Herald Tribune.

VPK. Needs to be more focus on pre-K for poor kids. Pensacola News Journal.

Common Core. The Tallahassee Democrat offers an overview of the big challenges and potential payoffs ahead.

School discipline. In response to a complaint from the Southern Poverty Law Center about the disciplining of black students, the Flagler school district is revamping its student code of conduct to better spell out consequences for problem behavior. Daytona Beach News Journal.

Bullying. It’s a chronic problem, especially in middle schools. Daytona Beach News Journal.

School technology. Broward is falling far behind neighboring districts in providing students access to digital devices. South Florida Sun Sentinel. Palm Beach County is moving with more urgency, the Sun Sentinel reports in a separate story.

School atmosphere. The reasons aren’t clear, but things got so bad at a Hillsborough middle school last year, many teachers quit showing up. Tampa Bay Times.

School spending. St. Lucie school board members want a closer look at administrative costs, even though on paper it appears the district has among the lowest administrative expenditures in the state. TCPalm.com. School districts across the state have been slashing sports budgets, leaving coaches and players to do more with less. Tampa Bay Times.

School  zoning. Despite six months of rezoning angst. some Seminole schools will still be overcrowded this fall. Orlando Sentinel.

School volunteers. The numbers take a big dip in Pinellas. Tampa Bay Times.

Jeb Bush. NewsMax writes up the latest legislative report card from the Foundation for Florida’s Future.

Teacher conduct. A Gilchrist County teacher accused of interacting and touching female students in inappropriate ways tries to keep his job. Gainesville Sun. One Duval teacher is fired for allowing children to wander school grounds, while another is fired for awarding ESOL endorsements to teachers who didn’t earn them. Florida Times Union.

Students with disabilities. Orange isn’t restraining students with disabilities as often as it used to, but parents still find the numbers unacceptably high. Orlando Sentinel.

End of course exams. Okaloosa scores rose this year. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Research. USF Professor Sherman Dorn critiques the recent CREDO charter school study and the recent voucher study by Matt Chingos at Brookings.

Community colleges. Tallahassee Community College is No. 1 in the nation for AA degrees in liberal arts. Tallahassee Democrat.

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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.