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Politics

State Officials Begin 3-Day Education Summit

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(Credit: AP)

(Credit: AP)

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CLEARWATER (CBSMiami/NSF) — With Florida’s public-school system facing major questions, state officials are gathering in Clearwater for a hastily-arranged, three-day summit to address pending issues.

Gov. Rick Scott called the summit to address everything from the state’s A-through-F grading system, teacher evaluations and new standards known as the Common Core.

State Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford are key partners in the summit. They’ve also designated legislative leaders to participate.

“Florida’s education accountability system has become a national model, but we are at a critical point in our history,” Scott said in a news release announcing the summit. “Our students need and deserve a quality education that emphasizes critical thinking and analysis. Our teachers and schools need our support as we continue to compete nationally and globally in preparing students for success in college, career and in life.”

Scott asked interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart to focus the summit on four broad issues — state standards, student assessments, school grades and teacher evaluations. Those issues have repeatedly drawn controversy during the past 15 years, as Republican governors and lawmakers have sought to overhaul the education system.

Former Education Commissioner Tony Bennett resigned Aug. 1 because of questions about whether he took part in changing a school grade to benefit a political supporter during a previous job heading the Indiana education system.

Even before Bennett resigned, however, the Florida system was grappling with tough issues. Among other things, the state Board of Education in July voted 4-3 to approve a plan that shielded schools from steep drops in their grades — a move that led some critics to raise doubts about the validity of the closely watched school-grading system.

About three dozen people, representing a broad cross-section of groups, were invited to participate. As examples, the list includes school superintendents from Miami-Dade, St. Johns and Bay counties and representatives of the Florida PTA, the Florida School Boards Association and the Florida Association of School Administrators.

Other invitees range from Florida Chamber of Commerce President Mark Wilson to officials from the Florida Education Association teachers union.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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