Florida roundup: School choice, special needs, tutoring and more


Magnet schools. Miami-Dade schools unveil a new planetarium to coincide with the debut of a new astronomy magnet program. Miami HeraldWSVN. More on the district’s new school choice plans from the Herald.

Testing. Teachers are nervous about the challenges of preparing students for new standards and assessments. Tampa Bay Times. The new tests are expected to be longer and more difficult. Sun-Sentinel. Common Core lessons are tougher, but students are starting to rise to the challenge. Orlando Sentinel. What will lawmakers do about state testing? StateImpact explores.

School choice. Duval parents learn about district choice options during a public expo. Florida Times-Union.

Special needs. A new program in Volusia helps special needs students participate in sports. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Hillsborough schools recruit teachers with non-traditional backgrounds to teach special needs students. Tampa Tribune.

Community schools. Evans High School has improved results since it started offering tutoring, medical care and other services to students in its low-income neighborhood, Orlando Sentinel columnist Beth Kassab writes.

Tutoring. Lee County schools plan to drop free after-school tutoring in favor of a new summer program. Fort Myers News-Press.

Superintendents. Community leaders in Palm Beach hope the coming search for a new schools chief goes better than previous attempts. Palm Beach Post. An activist accused of extorting the Palm Beach superintendent faces additional charges. Sun-Sentinel.

Teacher evaluations. Hillsborough teachers say they should have had more input in developing the district’s rating system. Tampa Bay Times.

Reading. Getting all students on grade level takes a community effort. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

College. President Obama’s plan for the federal government to make two years of college universal for children with a  2.5 GPA or higher may face resistance in Florida. Gradebook.

Coping. Sarasota students start a club to help students wrestle with everyday pressures and mental health issues. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Transportation. Hillsborough schools grapple with a shortage of bus drivers. Tampa Bay Times.

School calendars. A bill by Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, would give school districts more flexibility in setting start times. Scripps Treasure Coast.

Teacher of the year. Hillsborough announces finalists for that and other awards. Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Tribune.

Teacher conduct. A district investigation finds a coach removed from the classroom over porn on his Twitter account may have been “set up” by a student. Orlando Sentinel.

Impact fees. The Hernando County Commission may revisit the contentious issue of school impact fees. Tampa Bay Times.

Security. Daytona police may increase their presence at schools within city limits. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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BY Travis Pillow

Travis Pillow is Director of Thought Leadership at Step Up For Students and editor of NextSteps. He lives in Sanford, Fla. with his wife and two children. A former Tallahassee statehouse reporter, he most recently worked at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a research organization at Arizona State University, where he studied community-led learning innovation and school systems' responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. He can be reached at tpillow (at) sufs.org.