Florida schools roundup: Vouchers, private schools, charters & more

Vouchers: Sen. President Don Gaetz says he supports private school vouchers, but that students who participate in the program should be subject to the same or similar standardized tests that public school students take. Miami Herald. More from Orlando Sentinel. School choice is becoming more valuable for parents, who are turning to Step Up For Students and the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship  for help in finding the right fit for their children.  WEAR TV Channel 3.

florida-roundup-logoPrivate schools: St. Thomas Episcopal in Miami gets on loan from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration a display of lunar rocks, soil and meteorites. Miami Herald. 

Charter schools: Oasis High School, part of the Cape Coral charter school system, win 14 awards at the International Model UN conference hosted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. Fort Myers News-Press. In Hillsborough County, more than half of the existing charter schools have banded together to create a choice fair for families to learn about their offerings. Tampa Bay Times. Palm Beach County School District officials are working with two local legislators to introduce a bill that would require new charter schools to put up a $250,000 performance bond before they can open. Palm Beach Post.

Magnet schools: Public school leaders in Miami and elsewhere are refocusing on magnet schools as traditional public schools come under increasing pressure from charter schools and vouchers for private schools. The New York Times.

District schools: Polk County principals work to bring improvement to local schools. The Ledger.  Withnew writing coach and weekly boot camps, Hernando schools hope to pull up state test scores. Tampa Bay Times.

Collegiate high schools: Sen. John Legg proposes a bill to expand collegiate high schools, and spur community and state colleges to make more of an effort to engage high-schoolers in college-level courses. The Tampa Tribune.

Eric Cantor: GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor visits Academy Prep Center of Tampa to stump for school choice. redefinED. The Republican congressman from Virginia said the private middle school, which serves children in low-income families, is an example of how school choice can succeed. The Tampa Tribune. More from the Tampa Bay Times.

Common Core: Activists statewide are headed for Orlando for what looks to be another heated meeting on the fate of the increasing controversial statewide education standards. Palm Beach Post.

College track: StateImpact Florida looks at the costs of not going to college.

State testing: Manatee schools prep for the last FCAT before Common Core. Bradenton Herald.

Student discipline: Broward County’s dramatic reform of student discipline has some law enforcement officials worrying that the program leaves police officers out of the picture and provides insufficient protection for student victims. Sun Sentinel.

Education funding: Gov. Scott touts his $18.8 billion proposed education budget as the richest in history, with increases to Treasure Coast school districts, but local officials don’t think it’s the best deal they can get. TC Palm.

Academic goals: Florida’s race-based academic goals have sparked an online petition urging Gov. Rick Scott to halt their implementation. Orlando Sentinel.

School safety: A Jacksonville church plans to host a seminar to show faith-based institutions how to protect members from pedophiles and child
molesters and how to counsel adult victims of child sexual violence. Florida Times-Union. A Hillsborough school employees’ memo about bus issues gets attorneys’ attention. Tampa Bay Times.

Early learning: The House Education Committee is ready to roll out a bill that would upgrade the health, safety and teaching standards of Florida’s early learning programs. The News Service of Florida.

Evaluations: Pinellas school officials propose that 40 percent of the evaluations of district-level administrators be based on student achievement on standardized tests. Tampa Bay Times.

Teachers: South Florida’s teachers have taken to the website DonorsChoose.org to request books, iPads, computer accessories — basically everything but the kitchen sink. Actually, one teacher is asking for a sink. Sun Sentinel.

Parents: Terri Friedlander looks at “snowplow parents,” those moms and dads who plow ahead to eliminate any obstacles in their child’s way. Florida Today.

Historic schoolhouse: A school once used by the children of freed slaves, possibly the oldest of its kind in Florida, will find a home at Mandarin’s Walter Jones Historic Park after years of attempts to raise enough money to move it. Florida Times-Union.

Reading: Pinellas County schools embrace a new city-led program to get parents talking about books with their children. The Tampa Tribune.

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BY Sherri Ackerman

Sherri Ackerman is the former associate editor of redefinED. She is a former correspondent for the Tampa Bay Times and reporter for The Tampa Tribune, writing about everything from cops and courts to social services and education. She grew up in Indiana and moved to Tampa as a teenager, graduating from Brandon High School and, later, from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications/news editing. Sherri passed away in March 2016.