Readers poll: Rethink FCAT, school spending
FCAT testing our patience
FEA opposing evaluation rule
The Florida Education Association is challenging a proposed state rule on teacher evaluations that would be used in part to determine who gets merit pay. An administrative law judge was beginning a two-day hearing on the statewide teachers union's objections today. The union contends the Department of Education's proposal is vague and arbitrary and does not conform to state law. The department and State Board of Education dispute those arguments. The rule is designed to implement a law passed last year. It includes teacher evaluation requirements based heavily on student testing including the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT. Besides merit pay, the evaluations would be used to impose sanctions, possibly including dismissal, on low-rated teachers.
Outcry from parents, teachers follows talk of more cuts in Pasco schools (Jim Ciadella quoted)
Grad rate debated as standards get tougher (Sherman Dorn quoted)
Pinellas schools seek to equalize computer access while cutting costs
Charter schools trying to have it both ways
Wasting time is new divide in digital era
UF president: Permanent cuts, not reserves, will balance budget
Congressmen urge Scott to stop voter purge now
Using an American war veteran as the face of their cause, two South Florida congressmen called on the governor Tuesday to immediately stop the state's purge of the voter rolls. And in a separate move, Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson sent a letter to the governor expressing his own concerns about the voter purging. U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, accused the Republican governor of using the roll cleanup as a ruse to disenfranchise voters just months before a presidential election. Sitting in the retirement village in Davie where he lives, 91-year-old Bill Internicola listened Tuesday as Deutch read from a piece of his recent mail: "The Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office has received information from the state of Florida that you are not a United States citizen; however you are registered to vote.'' Internicola said he was amazed and a little insulted when he read the letter. He earned the Bronze Star as a medic in the Battle of the Bulge, and was honored by France with its Chevalier Legion of Honour. His wife, Dolores, was indignant. "Tell them only in Florida could this happen,'' she called out to her longtime husband at a news conference Tuesday. The World War II Army veteran and lifelong Democrat was given 30 days to prove his citizenship or be stricken from the rolls. The letter he received was one of 2,600 sent to voters throughout the state in recent weeks, to keep non-citizens from participating in elections. Another 52,000 people possibly dead were identified by the state as active voters, and local elections offices are purging them as well. The targeting of non-citizens came directly from Gov. Rick Scott, the Associated Press reported last week, quoting former Secretary of State Kurt Browning. Nelson, in his May 25 letter, cited the Browning revelation and told Scott that the public's "confidence in the right to vote is essential in a democracy.'' He said he was concerned about what he called the governor's "hunt'' for non-citizens, after "signing one of the nation's most controversial voting laws.'' The Republican-led Legislature last year overhauled election law, reducing early voting periods and tightening the rules for groups who register new voters. Democrats at the time said the changes would disenfranchise minorities and young voters.
State workers urge court to reject prison healthcare privatization
Lawyers representing nurses and other state employees argued Tuesday that Florida's Republican-led Legislature improperly used a budget tactic to hand inmate health services over to politically connected private companies. Leon County Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll said he will likely decide by early next week whether lawmakers violated the state constitution by directing the privatization using so-called budget proviso language. Another judge last September disallowed a plan to privatize 29 prisons in the southern half of the state, after the Legislature used the identical approach to pushing through the change. When the Florida Senate tried to revive that effort last spring, the legislation was defeated 21-19. "If they're going to mandate privatization, that's a policy decision that needs to be made in the normal legislative process," said Thomas Brooks, attorney for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). M. Stephen Turner, attorney for the Florida Nurses Association, also condemned legislative leaders for "something put into the recesses of the budget that sets important public policy." Both lawyers said the Legislature should have enacted a new state law if it wanted to go ahead with privatization. About 2,800 public employees would be affected by the plan to privatize prison health care.
Feds investigate Florida's tougher unemployment benefit system
Consumer confidence in Florida jumps in May
Scott should explain his own elephantine fiascos
New Scott laws face challenges
Failed stewardship puts Florida wetlands at risk
Ryan's block grant plan would fray U.S. safety net