John O'Connor


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.

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John O'Connor / WLRN

Miami-Dade school meals are going lean and green this school year -- with more veggies and heathier, low-calorie choices.

The district is adding smoothies made with Naked brand juices, greek yogurt and vegetarian lasagna.

But at an event Monday unveiling the new dishes, the district was most proud of its version of a Miami classic.

The “guavalito” is a whole grain, lower-sugar version of a guava and cheese pastelito, made by a local baker.

Charles Trainor Jr. / Miami Herald

Five presidential candidates spoke to the National Urban League Conference in Fort Lauderdale Friday.

The conference, which runs through Saturday, focuses on improving jobs, justice and education in American cities.


Democratic and Republican candidates talked about how government can address the conference theme: “Save Our Cities.”


Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took a direct shot at Republican candidate Jeb Bush. Clinton said Bush isn’t living up to his campaign’s theme of “Right to Rise.”


U.S. Department of Education / Flickr
Sattva /

Miami-Dade County Public Schools plan to eliminate out-of-school suspensions this year, preferring to keep kids in class and address behavior problems.

School districts around the country have made similar decisions because research and experience shows suspended students often find more trouble outside of school while on suspension. That can mean more neighborhood crime – and more suspended students getting arrested and charged.

The Schultz Center

At one point, the Schultz Center had state funding and a big, multi-million dollar contract with Duval County schools to help teachers improve their craft.

The Schultz Center has trained thousands of teachers since it was founded in Jacksonville in 1997. But when state revenues declined, the Schultz Center funding was cut.

Sean Dreilinger / Flickr

The State Board of Education approved a new statewide standard for the test-based portion of teacher evaluations Thursday.

Florida Board of Education

A State Board of Education member is questioning the number of sexual assaults reported on state college campuses.

Rebecca Fishman Lipsey believes it is unlikely that, in the most recent data, there were only seven forcible sexual assaults reported by the 28-college, 400,000 student system. Those figures do not include crime data for the dozen schools in the state’s university system.

Broward County School District

South Florida school leaders traveled to Washington Wednesday to share ideas on how to reduce on-campus arrests and suspensions.

Superintendents from Broward County and Miami-Dade County shared how their districts dealt with the problem at a summit hosted by the White House.

Research shows that students who are suspended before ninth grade are less likely to graduate. And on-campus arrests can stick with a student for life, hindering chances at a college education or finding a job.

Sarah Gonzalez/ StateImpact Florida

Last year nearly every Florida teacher was meeting goals according to statewide teacher evaluation that includes student test scores.

And two of every five teachers were rated “highly effective.”

But that could change soon at Thursday's State Board of Education meeting. The ratings are important because they influence teacher pay and can determine which teachers remain in their jobs and which teachers require extra training.

biologycorner / Flickr

The firm checking whether Florida’s new state test is valid is meeting with South Florida school districts Wednesday.

The state hired Alpine Testing Solutions after lawmakers raised questions about whether the new Florida Standards Assessments results should count.

Many students had long waits or couldn’t access the Florida Standards Assessments when they tried to log on to the test this spring. Others were kicked out in the middle of the exam.