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Florida roundup: Common Core, Tony Bennett, school choice & more

florida-roundup-logoTax credit scholarships. A growing option for families in Pinellas. Tampa Bay Times.

Charter schools. The proposed charter school at MacDill Air Force Base sparks a debate over charter school governance. Tampa Tribune. Polk State College aims to help high school dropouts with a new charter school. The Ledger.

School choice. The Pinellas County School District kicks off its application process this week for district school choice programs such as magnets and career academies. Tampa Bay Times.

Virtual schools. Florida Virtual School and other quality online providers are innovative, accountable and getting good results, writes FLVS President & CEO Julie Young in an op-ed for the Fort Myers News Press.

Testing. What’s going to replace the FCAT? Education Commissioner Pam Stewart is expected to shed some light on that this week. Florida Current. More from the Tampa Bay Times.

Common Core. Common Core critic Sandra Stotsky is right that Common Core won’t prepare students for college majors in science engineering and math, writes FSU Physics Professor Paul Cottle, but saying it shouldn’t be implemented because of that is “like saying that you shouldn’t purchase an automobile because it can’t fly.” Bridge to Tomorrow. Common Core is among the top issues to watch in 2014. News Service of Florida (via The Buzz).

Tony Bennett. How the charter school grading story unfolded in Indiana. Indianapolis Monthly. (Hat tip: StateImpact Florida).

Teacher pay. The Pasco County School District gets criticized by state auditors, again, for failing to establish differential pay for teachers and administrators. Gradebook.

School safety. A court rules a Miami-Dade school acted appropriately when it searched a kid’s bag for weapons after getting an anonymous tip. Gradebook.

School tragedy. A Panhandle teacher is slain over the holiday break. Northwest Florida Daily News. More from the Pensacola News Journal.

School spending. The once-booming, now-shrinking Broward County School District is looking to unload some land. South Florida Sun Sentinel. Miami Herald: “Pay for Broward schools’ diversity committee members sparks backlash.”

School bureaucracy. On its facebook page, the Palm Beach County School District gives the wrong date for returning to school. South Florida Sun Sentinel.

School boards. Sixteen candidates are vying for three seats on the Hillsborough County School Board, which oversees the nation’s eighth-biggest district. Tampa Bay Times.

Superintendents. The Flagler County School Board will consider buying out the remainder of the contract for Superintendent Janet Valentine, who suffered a stroke in November. Daytona Beach News Journal.

Relevance. Requiring a financial literacy course for high school students makes sense. Orlando Sentinel.

Retention. The Iowa state Board of Education considers adopting a third-grade retention policy similar to Florida’s.

Higher ed. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater wants to be the next president of Florida Atlantic University. Associated Press. Former Palm Beach County Superintendent Art Johnson has also applied. Palm Beach Post.

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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