A 2009 recording shows online educator K12 had difficulty hiring properly certified teachers in Florida. A draft state investigation found no evidence the company used teachers who were not Florida-certified, but used three teachers who were not subject certified.
State law requires teachers are certified in their subject area and by the state.
So when a K12 teacher saw her name listed on company documents as teaching Florida classes she had not taught, she asked her managers about it.
During a November 2009 conference call, the managers called it a mistake they were fixing. The recording was provided by a source and none of the participants were in states which require permission to record a phone call.
Allison Cleveland, K12’s vice president of school management and services, tried to assuage concerns that teacher certifications were used without that teacher’s knowledge.
“Well I think the important thing about Florida – you are not actually teaching in Florida,” she said on the tape. “You have not had any contact with students in Florida. I mean your name being on that list was nothing but a mistake. And, it took us a couple of days to get to the bottom of that…you know, and I feel like we’ve been able to resolve it.”
Company managers held a series of phone calls with staff to explain the situation, including admitting that a teacher’s name showed up on a roster of Florida teachers by mistake.
The phone call was recorded and provided to the Florida Department of Education Office of Inspector General as part of an investigation into whether K12 used properly certified teachers in Seminole County.
Earlier this month, 150 members of the Tampa 9/12 Project – a group which shares some of the goals of the Tea Party — met to hear from a critic of Common Core standards. Curtis said people left the meeting thinking Florida should take a second look at the standards.
John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida
Tampa resident Tim Curtis says he is concerned about the federal government is encouraging states to adopt Common Core State Standards. Curtis would like the state a timeout to study the standards further.
“First and foremost it’s not a federal issue,” Curtis said. “Tell me something that we’ve done at the federal level, especially here of late, where it’s been such a booming success.”
The standards have been fully adopted by Florida, 44 other states and the District of Columbia. Common Core lays out what students are expected to know in math and English language arts by the end of each grade.
The standards streamline the number of topics schools teach children in each subject. Common Core also requires teachers ask students what they know and to prove how they know it.
Legislatures and schools across the country are seeing opposition to the Common Core as more states approach the deadline to begin using the standards and accompanying tests.
6th grader Mariah Harris wants to go to college and become a veterinary technician.
Right now, schools determine whether to move a student into special education classes.
But a proposed bill in Tallahassee would give parents of children with special needs more power over their education.
Fort Lauderdale 6th grader Mariah Harris has Down syndrome, and she wants to be a veterinary technician.
“My dream is to go to college with my friends one day,” she told a panel of lawmakers.
She was accepted into a middle school magnet program that caters to her love of science and math. But before the school year started, her mother says the Broward County school district drastically changed the plan for Mariah’s education.
Q: You served as an education adviser to former Gov. Jeb Bush, and now you run two education policy organizations with him. One is Florida-focused, the other is national. What are you working to accomplish?
The Florida Education Association – the teachers union – says of the parent trigger: “We need to invest in the classroom priorities that build a foundation for student learning rather than simply turning our children, our school buildings and our tax dollars over to profit driven corporations and hoping for the best.”
But in an interview with StateImpact Florida last week, Weatherford said he was shocked that anyone would want to defeat the parent trigger bill.
“All it does is give parents a say in making sure their children get a quality education,” Weatherford said.
He says he and his wife haven’t decided yet on schooling for their three daughters. His oldest, not yet in kindergarten, currently attends a private Christian school.
Here’s more from our interview with Speaker Weatherford:
If Don Gaetz gives you a task, he will make sure you get it done.
That’s how Cindy Frakes remembers Gaetz, whom she worked with in the Okaloosa County schools. Gaetz was the superintendent then, in the early 2000s. Frakes was, and still is, a member of the school board.
Gaetz kept a list, Frakes said, and he knew what had been finished and what hadn’t
“He was never going to forget,” she says. “Everybody knew he was coming back. He had a lot of respect.”
The Florida Senate
Florida Senate President Don Gaetz is a former superintendent who wants to revamp career education programs.
Under Gaetz, Okaloosa schools rose from middle of the pack, according to the state’s report card system, to the state’s highest- or second-highest scoring district.
Now Gaetz, a Republican, is president of the Florida Senate. And he is pushing similar changes across Florida.
Gaetz is a former journalist and hospital executive who saw politics as a way to make big changes for schools and health. Gaetz won his first election for school board in 1994. He was elected superintendent in 2000, resigning the post when he won his Senate seat in 2006.
“I learned early on that if you want to do something differently, if you want to do something innovative, generally speaking, there’s a door you have to go through in Tallahassee or Washington to get it done,” he told StateImpact Florida in an interview last week. “I wanted to try and get through the door in Washington or in Tallahassee to do something to improve health care, to do something to improve the educational quality of my own children’s schools.”
Malcolm Calvert was in 7th grade when he got into an argument with his 6th grade friend on a school bus and hit him with a Tootsie Pop.
“I hit him with it on his head,” recalls Malcolm, who was a student at Lanier James Alternative School in Hallandale Beach, Fla., when the Tootsie Pop incident happened in 2011. “They handcuffed me and took me off the school bus.” Continue reading →
5th grade teacher Beverley Dowell says she hopes the Governor “isn’t trying to buy teacher votes” when he suggested every full-time teacher in the state get a pay raise before their evaluation results come in.
Most districts won’t start identifying, and potentially removing, low-performing teachers from their schools until next year. But Governor Rick Scott said he wants to give every full-time teacher in the state a pay raise now.
“For a while now we’ve been hearing how bad we are,” said Beverley Dowell, a 5th grade teacher at Treasure Island Elementary School in Miami-Dade. ”[That] we need to weed out bad teachers, there’s so many bad teachers.”
“On one hand you’re cleaning us out of the system, on the other hand you’re going to reward us with $2,500 because according to the Governor we truly deserve it,” Dowell said. “We have to be concerned.”
It’s a chance for Florida school districts to learn more about two big approaching changes: The switch to new, tougher education standards known as Common Core and Florida’s requirement that schools begin using more digital instruction materials.
StateImpact Florida reporter John O’Connor spoke with Jennifer Womble, who helps organize the event.
“There’s been a transition from technology being a tool on the side of education,” Womble said, “to technology being completely integrated into the education day.”