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Gradebook podcast: Controversies in the Capitol - Vouchers, teacher pay, Common Core and more

Education issues continue to provide endless fodder for debate and dispute in Florida politics.
Hot topics such as teacher pay, LGBTQ student rights and the Common Core continue to dominate Florida's education debate. [Times, Associated Press photos]
Hot topics such as teacher pay, LGBTQ student rights and the Common Core continue to dominate Florida's education debate. [Times, Associated Press photos]
Published Feb. 6

If you ever had any question whether education is important in Florida, look no further than Tallahassee. Year after year, lawmakers and the governor have spent hours crafting policy ideas — good and bad — and even longer arguing about them.

Even in the sessions when they announce they’ll be giving the issue a rest. And 2020 is no different.

So many controversies in the Capitol center on schooling subjects.

Tallahassee bureau reporter Emily Mahoney joins education reporter Jeff Solochek to talk about the latest battles over vouchers, teacher pay, the Common Core and more.

Related: Rubio intensifies fight over anti-LGBTQ policies in Florida private schools
Related: Have input on Florida’s school standards? Better be quick.
Related: When it comes to raises, who’s a teacher?


  1. AMIkids in Pinellas Park has been shut down after two staffers were arrested in connection with the injury and neglect of a 12-year-old student.
  2. First Lady Casey DeSantis talks with students during the Hope for Healing a mental and substance abuse initiative held Roland Park K-8 School in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said state officials worked closely with DeSantis to craft the new rule. OCTAVIO JONES | Times
  3. In this Feb. 14, 2018, photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland after a shooter opened fire on the campus.
  4. Pinellas County School Board member Carol Cook, left, celebrates her reelection to her fifth term in 2016. If ultimately approved, a term limits proposal would force Florida's school board members out after two consecutive terms.
  5. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini fields questions on the House floor on Feb. 19, 2020, about his proposal to ask voters to limit school board member terms.
  6. Chicken and vegetable dumplings with soy sauce were offered to students to test during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste-testing, Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at Pinellas Technical College. Twenty-eight new food items were tested and rated.  Some will be added to next year's school menus.
  7. Patrick Suiters, 10, left, and Gabriel Stanford, 9, both fourth-graders at San Jose Elementary School in Dunedin, fill out a survey after tasting falafel tots and nuggets during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste test at Pinellas Technical College. About 120 students tasted and rated 28 new food items that could be added to school breakfast and lunch menus next year.
  8. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
  9. The Pinellas County school system is offering driver education camps to hundreds of students like this one over the summer. The program will be held over two sessions at nine high school campuses across the county.
  10. Incoming Superintendent Addison Davis (center) and School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) sign Davis' contract with the Hillsborough County School District after it was unanimously approved by the school board on February 18, 2020.
  11. Incoming Hillsborough School Superintendent Addison Davis (center), School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) and the other board members pose as Davis signs his contract with the district on Tuesday night. The board unanimously approved the contract beforehand.
  12. Jarvis Delon West was arrested on child neglect charges after he didn't report an employee at AMI Kids who slammed a boy to the ground, according to police.