We're dedicated to telling you stories about policy and public spending, and how they affect students in Florida schools. Our WUSF News reporters team up with our public media partners across Florida to bring you a more comprehensive look at learning.

To see coverage from our prior StateImpact Florida project, visit here.

In honor of today's Twitter Education Forum (#npredchat) at 11 a.m. (Eastern) hosted by NPR's midday-talk program Tell Me More with Michel Martin, here's a closer look at the StateImpact Florida team.

NPR's show Tell Me More opened up a conversation this morning about education reform. It was heard here on WUSF and it included two people at the very core of the issue.... students.

One of those students is Shakira Locket, student at Miami Dade College.

Locket graduated from Coral Gables Senior High school but once she reached college, she realized she wasn't prepared.

We won't just get to elect the next president on the November ballot. In Florida, eleven amendments to the state constitution will be up for vote - and they all were put there by lawmakers in Tallahassee. A group of teachers are opposing one of the amendments, saying it would hurt public schools.

If you're interested in the future of education in Florida and our nation, there's just one place you want to be on Oct. 10 -- next to your radio and/or computer.

Next Wednesday at 11 a.m., the NPR show "Tell Me More" and WUSF and WLRN's education reporting project StateImpact Florida are teaming up for a special show.

We've convinced some of the heavy-hitters in education to be part of the forum -- including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the provocative former leader of Washington D.C.'s public schools, Michelle Rhee.

Florida College Access Network released a report today that says for the first time, Florida awarded more post secondary certificates than bachelor's degrees last school year.

A post secondary certificate is the credential from non-credit programs offered at below the bachelors level.

And we might be undermining their potential.

USF Board of Trustees Approves Unique Partnership

Sep 24, 2012

The University of South Florida Board of Trustees voted unanimously today in favor of the new partnership between USF and Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

The unique affiliation between the University of South Florida and Lakeland Regional Medical Center creates a non-profit corporation-- USF Health System Inc.

Lakeland Regional is one of Florida's busiest hospitals and it would be a major teaching hospital for USF.

Trustee member Steve Mitchell says this is a great partnership.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of teenagers in the United States quit high school without diplomas—an epidemic so out of control that nobody knows the exact number. What is clear is that massive dropout rates cripple individual career prospects and cloud the country’s future.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was in Sarasota Thursday, laying out his ideas for improving the economy.

Romney’s five-point plan included an education plank.

Romney praised former Gov. Jeb Bush and borrowed a key idea. He also pledged to allow federal dollars to follow the student, which would allow parents to better choose the best school for their child.

Here’s the transcript:

University of South Florida

University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft gave her fall address today, and she described a university that's bringing more money in through grants and research, but having to tighten its belt anyway.

Some Florida School Districts Not Checking For K12 Problems

Sep 16, 2012

Seminole County teacher Amy Capelle had to make a decision.

Her supervisor at the nation’s largest online school, K12, asked her to sign a roster saying she’d taught 112 kids.

She’d only taught seven.

“If you see your name next to a student that might not be yours, it’s because you are qualified to teach that subject, and we needed to put your name there,” wrote K12 supervisor Samantha Gilormini in an e-mail.

Capelle refused, and now state officials are investigating whether K12 used improperly certified teachers and asked employees to cover it up.

In K12 Courses, 275 Students to a Single Teacher

Sep 16, 2012

Student-teacher ratios at K12, the nation’s largest online educator, are nearly twice as high as Florida’s state-run virtual school, according to internal company documents obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and StateImpact Florida.

A high school teacher working for K12 may have as many as 275 students, compared to Florida Virtual School, which has a maximum class size of 150.

As Chicago's teachers took to the streets, Americans were reminded of the importance of education in the national conversation. In collaboration with our StateImpact Florida team, NPR's midday-talk program Tell Me More is guiding an extensive - and inclusive - discussion to spotlight education in America.

Editor’s note: This story was written by Trevor Aaronson with the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

New College of Florida

It's been a rough couple of weeks for Florida schools. Last month, Newsweek ranked a handful of Florida universities among the country's least rigorous and biggest party schools.

And earlier this week, officials launched an investigation against the country's largest online educator, which happens to be based in the Sunshine State.

The Manatee County School Superintendent decided to resign Monday, just days after the district revealed a $3.5 million budget deficit, and less than a week after his announced retirement.

Superintendent Tim McGonegal resigned immediately in a letter sent to school board members Monday, taking responsibility for the lack of financial oversight that led to the budget gap.  

Manatee County School Board Chairman Harry Kinnan said he is disappointed that McGonegal is leaving without helping clean up the financial mess.

Florida Investigates K12, Nation's Largest Online Educator

Sep 11, 2012

Editor’s note: This story was written by Trevor Aaronson of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and John O’Connor with StateImpact Florida.

Florida’s Department of Education has launched an investigation of K12, the nation’s largest online educator, over allegations the company uses uncertified teachers and asked employees to help cover up the practice.

K12 officials told certified teachers to sign class rosters that included students they hadn’t taught, according to documents that are part of the investigation.

The Chick-fil-A/gay marriage debate has hit the Tampa campus of USF. Humanities professor Scott Ferguson has started a petition on to remove the restaurant from the Marshall Student Center.

Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy made remarks against gay marriage in an interview earlier this year and the incident has solicited boycotts against and rallies in support of it.

Joseph C. Gamble / USF Communications and Marketing

Newsweek has ranked the country's least rigorous four-year colleges according to the percentage of applicants admitted, median SAT/ACT scores, workload and student-faculty ratio.

Florida schools didn't do so hot:

1.  University of Central Florida

2.  Florida State University

4.  University of South Florida*

Florida Education Commissioner Submits Resignation

Jul 31, 2012

Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson will resign his position on August 31, the Department of Education announced this evening.

Manatee County Schools Ban Energy Drinks

Jul 24, 2012

Manatee School District is the first in the state to ban energy drinks in school.

Energy drinks like  5 Hour Energy, Red Bull, and Monster won't be allowed on school grounds in Manatee County this upcoming school year.

Monday night, the school board unanimously voted to ban energy drinks.

Manatee Schools spokeswoman Margi Nanney says secondary school administrators brought up the issue.