Expect more retirement changes

The Florida Supreme Court's endorsement of public employee contributions to the state pension fund may embolden lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott to pursue more changes in the state retirement system. Those changes -- such as moving new workers into a 401(k)-type plan -- may not come until after the 2014 elections. In fact, the future of the $127 billion state pension fund is likely to be a key issue in legislative contests as well as Scott's own bid for re-election. Public employee unions are already using the court decision as a rallying cry for their members, who often play a key role in organizing and getting the vote out for Democratic candidates. "It's time to organize," the Florida Education Association, a teachers' union, said in a Twitter message just minutes after the Supreme Court ruling upholding the 3 percent contributions. However, while the unions may pose a political threat, Scott and legislative leaders can tap their own base by arguing the changes to the public pension fund are designed to bring the system more in line with the private sector. In other words, they argue that public workers' benefits should be similar to private-sector workers, who increasingly don't have access to a pension or a 401(k) plan as generous as the state offers. Ron Meyer, a lawyer who represented the teachers in the lawsuit against the pension contribution, said the workers never disputed the fact that the state had the right to change retirement benefits for new employees. Instead, he said the challenge asserted the state essentially broke a "contract" it made with existing workers when it decided to halt the contributions in 1974. You can expect to hear more about that "broken" promise and its impact on public workers, ranging from teachers to firefighters to school bus drivers, as the 2014 elections approach.

http://www.theledger.com/article/20130120/COLUMNISTS0302/130129997/1112/edit?Title=Expect-More-Retirement-Changes

 

Pension proposal gets cool reception

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20130120/ARTICLE/130129981/2416/NEWS?Title=Pension-proposal-gets-cool-reception

 

Time for a discussion on testing in Florida?

Teachers and lawmakers around the country are setting the bar for a conversation about the role tests play in American education. In Seattle, teachers at Garfield High School -- alma mater to Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Lee, among other notables -- have decided to boycott the district's standardized tests, calling them a waste of time and money. Their action, which has spread to at least one other school, has generated a debate over testing and its role. Down in Texas, meanwhile, state Rep. Jim Pitts -- a conservative Republican who heads the House Budget committee -- has sparked talk in his own way by zeroing out the state's standardized testing budget. This is the same state where districts by the hundred came out calling for a reduction in high-stakes testing after its now-former state education chief agreed Texas was testing too much.

Here in Florida, the topic continues to get an airing, too. Several school boards have called for a reduction in testing, and some districts (notably Duval) have taken steps on their own to limit tests administered locally. High ranking lawmakers, meanwhile, have insisted that testing is a key part of the state's outcomes-based accountability system, a position new commissioner of education Tony Bennett shares. Does Florida need dramatic steps, such as what's going on in Seattle and Austin, though, to really generate a meaningful discussion about the value and the limitations of testing? If so, who's going to step up and make it happen? 

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/content/time-discussion-testing-florida

 

Why Seattle teachers boycotted the standardized test

http://seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2020158085_jessehagopianopedxml.html

 

System is driving out good teachers

http://www2.tbo.com/news/opinion/2013/jan/20/memeto1-steve-otto-system-is-driving-out-good-teac-ar-611743/

 

Why VAM is doomed to fail

http://kafkateach.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/why-vam-is-doomed-to-fail/

 

St. Lucie Schools officials, teachers reach tentative agreement on key items (Vanessa Tillman quoted)
http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2013/jan/18/mediation-continues-between-teachers-st-lucie/

 

Health insurance still hot topic for St. Lucie teachers, district officials (Vicki Rodriguez quoted)

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2013/jan/19/health-insurance-still-hot-topic-for-st-lucie/

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2013/jan/20/editorial-in-wake-of-what-looks-like-a-scare-st/

 

Broward school workers going elsewhere for health insurance (BTU mentioned)

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/fl-broward-schools-medical-rates-20130118,0,4692194.story

 

Broward School Board questions district's class reduction strategy

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/education/fl-broward-class-reduction-20130121,0,5594861.story

 

State plan to help charter schools irks Palm Beach School Board

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/local-education/state-plan-to-help-charter-schools-irks-palm-beach/nT3qC/

 

Refinancing could reset Brevard school board plan to cut costs

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20130122/NEWS01/301220019?source=nletter-top5

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20130121/TURBOMOM/301220004/Brevard-School-funding-crisis-meets-day-reckoning

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20130122/COLUMNISTS0207/301220018?source=nletter-top5

 

Flagler class size plan includes more teachers, online classes

http://www.news-journalonline.com/article/20130120/NEWS/301209976/1040?Title=Flagler-class-size-plan-includes-more-teachers-online-classes

 

Common sense prevails as Hillsborough School Board rejects armed guard plan

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/ruth-common-sense-prevails-as-school-board-rejects-armed-guard-plan/1271168

 

Education chief should step in on testing snag

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/education-chief-should-step-in-on-testing-snag/1271252

 

MLK on the purpose of education

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/01/21/dr-martin-luther-king-jr-on-the-purpose-of-education/

 

How $1.9 Million from Race to the Top grant was used for propaganda

http://bobsidlethoughtsandmusings.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/how-1-9-million-from-the-race-to-the-top-grant-was-used-as-a-propaganda-tool-for-the-florida-model/

 

Jeb Bush’s foundation wants Florida to ignore crony capitalism on charter schools

http://bobsidlethoughtsandmusings.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/jeb-bushs-foundation-wants-florida-to-ignore-crony-capitalism-on-charter-schools/

 

When poetry meets the Common Core

http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2012/01/14/tln_curran_poetry.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-TW

 

Charter schools now big business nationwide

http://www.wftv.com/ap/ap/education/charter-schools-now-big-business-nationwide/nTyRC/

 

Jindal’s campaign to smash public education in Louisiana

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/01/21/john-whites-campaign-to-smash-public-education-in-louisiana-continues/

 

Oklahoma parents don’t like Jeb Bush’s Florida model

http://bobsidlethoughtsandmusings.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/oklahoma-parents-dont-like-jeb-bushs-florida-model/

 

Backed by state money, Georgia tax-credit vouchers go to schools barring gays

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/education/georgia-backed-scholarships-benefit-schools-barring-gays.html

 

Not all private schools are on the up and up

http://www.newssun.com/Opinion/ed-011813

 

Scott's involvement in UF president decision under review

http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/college/gov-rick-scotts-involvement-in-uf-president-decision-under-review/1271239

 

Florida unemployment dips to 8 percent though the state loses 15,300 jobs

http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/workinglife/florida-unemployment-dips-to-8-percent-though-the-state-loses-15300-jobs/1271133

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/business/florida-palm-beach-county-see-drops-in-unemploymen/nTz2n/

 

Analysis: 201,000 in Florida didn't vote because of long lines

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-voter-lines-statewide-20130118,0,3877120.story

 

Felons should have civil rights automatically restored

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/article1271267.ece

 

Scott's voting turnaround puts him on the right path

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/scotts-voting-turnaround-puts-him-on-the-right-path/1271266

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/gubernatorial/stop-the-presses-gov-scott-supports-fair-elections/1271219

 

Scott appointing fewer black judges than Bush, Crist

http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/gov-rick-scott-appointing-fewer-black-judges-than-jeb-bush-charlie-crist/1271536

 

Major ethics bill unveiled

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/18/3189760/major-ethics-bill-unveiled-in.html

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-tallahassee-culture-of-corruption-20130120,0,7404492.story

http://www.floridavoices.com/columns/paula-dockery/campaign-finance-should-be-local-and-transparent

 

Ethics reform is long overdue in Tallahassee

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/legislature/ethics-reform-is-long-overdue-in-tallahassee/1271631

 

Gun makers feast on Florida tax breaks

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/19/3189762/gun-makers-violent-film-and-video.html

 

Tallahassee lawmaker proposes 7 percent pay raises for state workers

http://www.thefloridacurrent.com/article.cfm?id=31162988

 

Lawmakers face big questions in health care debate

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/health/fl-obamacare-q-and-a-20130120,0,2182142.story

 

Cannon’s new client just scored in Medicaid privatization push

http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_politics/2013/01/dean-cannons-new-client-just-scored-in-medicaid-privatization-push.html

 

Politics mustn't bog down Everglades progress

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/article1271225.ece

 

Obama gives bold vision of American future

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/us/politics/obama-inauguration-draws-hundreds-of-thousands.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/president-obama-takes-second-oath-of-office-at-inauguration/2013/01/21/062d9d54-63d4-11e2-85f5-a8a9228e55e7_story.html

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/president-barack-obama-strikes-aggressive-tone-at-inaugural-as-he-calls/1271677
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/us/politics/obamas-speech-is-urgent-call-for-progressive-values.html

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/obamas-unifying-words-to-live-by/1271656

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/us/politics/diverse-crowd-at-inauguration-savors-a-moment-in-history.html

 

Obama starting second term on aggressive pace

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/president-barack-obama-starting-second-term-on-aggressive-pace/1271535


PolitiFact: Obama has fulfilled or made good progress on most first-term campaign promises

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2013/jan/17/politifact-obamas-first-term-campaign-promises/

 

Poll finds most back Obama, with a split on party lines

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/19/us/politics/entering-2nd-term-obama-has-51-percent-approval-rating.html

 

In reversal, House GOP agrees to lift debt limit

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/19/us/politics/house-gop-agrees-to-lift-debt-ceiling-for-3-months.html

 

 

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