John O'Connor

Reporter

John O’Connor is a reporter for StateImpact Florida, a project of WLRN and WUSF covering education. John writes for the StateImpact Florida blog and produces stories for air on Florida public radio stations.

John is a former political reporter for The (Columbia, S.C.) State and the Daily Record in Baltimore. He has a bachelor’s degree from Allegheny College and a master’s degree from the University of Maryland. He was chosen as the South Carolina Press Association 2009 Journalist of the Year.

Pages

StateImpact Florida
11:17 pm
Sun November 16, 2014

Florida Teachers Consider 'Civil Disobedience' To Say No To Testing

Miramar High School teacher David Ross says testing has taken more and more time away from teaching. He refused to administer an FCAT make-up exam in protest.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

In September, Alachua County kindergarten teacher Susan Bowles refused to give a state reading test.

She told the parents of her students it was an act of civil disobedience.  The Florida Department of Education later suspended the exam for this year.

Read more
Education
12:07 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Three Questions With State Sen. John Legg About His Technology Summit

State Sen. John Legg is gathering experts from schools, the technology industry, business and universities to talk about helping Florida schools integrate more technology.
Credit jaredearle / Flickr

Today in Tampa, lawmakers, superintendents, businesspeople and state university staff will gather to talk about using technology in Florida classrooms. The summit was the idea of Senate Education chairman John Legg, R-Trinity. We asked him what he wanted to accomplish:

You are gathering some school and education leaders together… to talk about school technology. Why are you doing this and what do you hope to learn?

Read more
StateImpact Florida
12:19 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

"Ballin' On A Budget": How A Miami Teacher Keeps His Library Stocked

Some of the books in Daniel Dickey's classroom library.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Miami Northwestern High School teacher Daniel Dickey says there's no silver bullet or secret book which will spark a student's interest in reading.

Instead, he says he asks questions and listens.

"I sit down with that student and really figure out what is it that drives you?" Dickey says. "Why do you come to school? Why are you here every day?"

He asks them about their plans, their dreams.

Read more
StateImpact Florida
9:19 pm
Sun November 9, 2014

To Make High Schoolers Want To Read, Miami Teacher Makes It A Competition

Miami Northwestern Senior High writing teacher Daniel Dickey says you have to be a good reader to be a good writer. He's challenged his student to read one million words this year.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Miami Northwestern High School English teacher Daniel Dickey has found a way to make his tenth graders brag about their reading skills.

Mischael Saint-Sume and Ciji Wright tease each other about who's going to read one million words first -- a contest Dickey created.

“Did you put him in his place?" Dickey asked Wright. "Because Mischael, he’s popping in my classroom every day with a new book."

“Oh don’t worry about it because I’ve got plenty of books for him,” Wright replied.

“But it ends today, by the way," Saint-Sume said. “I’m going to hit a million.”

Read more
Congress
1:23 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Curbelo Reclaims Florida's Southernmost Congressional Seat For GOP

Carlos Curbelo celebrates victory Tuesday.

Miami-Dade school board member Carlos Curbelo surfed a national Republican wave to victory over Democrat Joe Garcia in Florida's 26th congressional district.

The state’s southernmost district includes both suburban Kendall and eclectic Key West.

Garcia won the seat two years ago, but Curbelo has returned it to Republican control.

Curbelo says voters are frustrated and disillusioned with government.

Read more
Teacher Evaluations
8:51 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Broward Schools Want Changes To Evaluations And High School Schedules

Broward schools superintendent Robert Runcie, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, left, and Broward Teachers Union president Sharon Glickman, right, announced the creation of two task forces to recommend changes to teacher evaluations and high school schedules.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Broward County school and union leaders want to make changes to test-based teacher evaluations and the county's high school schedule.

Florida law requires half of a teacher's evaluation score to be based on whether students miss, meet or exceed expected results on state tests.

Read more
Ballot Suit
4:21 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Groups Settle Lawsuit Over Broward County Ballots

The card Broward County voters will receive reminding them to vote on every ballot item.
Credit John O'Connor / WLRN

A group challenging a Broward County ballot design they say is confusing has settled a lawsuit with the county’s Supervisor of Elections.

Now, Broward County voters will receive a bright yellow card when they go to cast their votes. The card reminds voters they have a choice on four separate ballot questions on the second page of the ballot, not three.

Read more
The Governor's Race
7:15 am
Mon October 27, 2014

What A Second Term Of Rick Scott Or Charlie Crist Will Mean For Florida Education

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat, and current Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, have made education a top issue on the campaign trail.
Credit Michael Laughlin / South Florida Sun Sentinel

Note: This story was originally posted on Oct. 14. The audio is an updated version of the story.

Polls show Governor Rick Scott and former Governor Charlie Crist are polarizing. Voters are as likely to dislike the candidates as they are to approve of them.

So both candidates are talking about schools, colleges and scholarships -- to motivate their supporters.

Read more
School Choice Lawsuits
5:09 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Court, Public Relations Battle Over Florida Private School Programs Heating Up

The Florida Education Association has amended its challenge of a new school choice law in the Leon County's Second Judicial Circuit.
Credit flguardian2 / Flickr

The legal and public relations battle over Florida's private-school scholarship programs continues, with the statewide teacher's union revising its lawsuit and a school choice group producing a new television ad supporting the programs.

Read more
Education
1:32 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

South Florida State House Candidates Agree There's Too Much Testing

Republican, Democrat and independent candidates were unanimous Tuesday -- Florida schools test too much.
Credit shinealight / Flickr

The candidates running for three South Dade state House seats -- Republican, Democrat, independent -- all agree that Florida students and schools spend too much time testing.

Candidates running for the Florida House of Representatives in the 112th, 114th and 115th districts gathered for an education forum Tuesday night at Palmetto Middle School.

Read more
The Governor's Race
6:45 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Republicans Try To Turn Out Early Votes In Miami

Gov. Rick Scott, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio urged GOP voters to cast their ballots early.
Credit John O'Connor / WLRN

It’s about two weeks until voters choose the next governor of Florida.

Absentee votes started being counted last week. And today is the start of early voting in South Florida. Other counties will follow soon.

It’s why Gov. Rick Scott and a slate of Republican candidates met at a Miami park next to a polling place Monday – to cast their early votes and encourage others to do the same.

The race between Republican Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist is tight. Scott says the first votes cast could be the difference in the end.

Read more
Common Core
3:36 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Palm Beach School Board Member Says Lawmakers Set "Unrealistic Expectations"

Jennifer Prior Brown is stepping down from the Palm Beach County school board, but she says teachers won't have enough time to prepare students for the state's new math standards.
Credit freedigitalphotos.net

An outgoing Palm Beach County school board member says the state’s new math standards are too tough, and that schools don’t have enough time to get kids up to speed.

Palm Beach County school board member Jennifer Prior Brown brought a fourth grade homework problem to Thursday’s board meeting.

Wayne and Cheryl have 72 marbles between them, the problem asked. Cheryl has two more than four times as many as Wayne. How many marbles does Cheryl have?

“So I quickly came up with an algebraic equation, right?" Prior Brown asked, before meticulously walking through the steps.

Read more
The Governor's Race
3:47 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Florida Governor Candidates Disagree About Changing Stand Your Ground Law

Democrat Charlie Crist says he wants to change Florida's Stand Your Ground self-defense law. Republican Gov. Rick Scott would leave it be.
Credit Michael Laughlin / South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist disagree on a controversial self-defense law that allows Floridians to kill if they feel their lives are threatened.

When asked if justice was done in the 2012 shooting death of Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin, Crist, a Democrat, referred to his days as a prosecutor.

"I understand that judging from afar is not a very good idea," Crist said. "What I do know though, is this Stand Your Ground law needs to be fixed.”

Crist said the law allows someone to instigate a confrontation, then kill the other person and be exonerated.

Read more
Politics
6:19 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Why Education Is A Top Issue In The Governor's Race

Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic opponent Charlie Crist are making education a top issue during the campaign.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Polls show Governor Rick Scott and former Governor Charlie Crist are polarizing. Voters are as likely to dislike the candidates as they are to approve of them.

So both candidates are talking about schools, colleges and scholarships -- to motivate their supporters.

“Education is an issue that is helping to appeal to the base," says Sean Foreman, a Barry University political science professor and chairman of the education committee for the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

Read more
StateImpact Florida
11:06 am
Mon October 13, 2014

How A Miami Middle School Added Speech And Debate Classes On A Budget

Veldreana Oliver has taught physical education for 28 years at Allapattah Middle School. More recently, her principal asked her to teach writing, speech and debate.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Last week StateImpact Florida told you how a middle school in Miami has added speech and debate courses this year to improve reading, writing and speaking.

The school’s principal, Bridget McKinney majored in debate and thought the requirements for Florida’s new Common Core-based standards sounded a lot like her college classes. She needed a writing teacher for new speech and debate courses she wanted to create.

Read more

Pages