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.

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Education
7:11 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Broward County Schools Release $900 Million Maintenance Wish List

Credit 401(K) 2012/Flickr

  Broward County school leaders have unveiled a $900 million list of projects they want to complete over the next five years.

That includes turning portable rooms housed in mobile trailers into permanent classrooms, replacing aging air-conditioning systems and upgrading art, music and athletics facilities.

Broward County schools superintendent Robert Runcie said the district scrutinized every project on its wish list and chose those that were most important.

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StateImpact Florida
11:36 pm
Sun August 10, 2014

Florida's Newest University Will Try To Bring MIT Culture Here

A model of the future campus of Florida Polytechnic University.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

This coming Saturday marks the grand opening for Florida's 12th state university. Florida Polytechnic University in Polk County will offer tuition-free education focused on science, technology, engineering and math -- STEM -- to its inaugural class of about 550 students. They'll start on August 25.

President Randy Avent sat down with Robin Sussingham from WUSF in Tampa to talk about his vision for the new university.

Here's an edited version of their conversation.

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Politics
5:59 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

"We Lurch": Activist Bob Moses On The Current Fight For Voting Rights

Civil Right activist and educator Bob Moses. Moses says the federal government should do more to ensure Americans' right to vote.
Credit miller_center / Flickr

Monday is the first day of early voting for this year’s primary elections.

In Florida, voting -- early or otherwise -- has been disputed in various ways over past decade.

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StateImpact Florida
4:56 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Where Should Computer Programming Fit Into Florida's School Requirements?

Students at the CodeNow workshop in Miami learned to program simple games, such as asking users to quickly match words and colors.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Lots of people think teaching students computer programming is a good idea. But where coding fits in schools is a difficult question.

Is it a science? A language? Career training?

Florida lawmakers proposed, but did not approve, letting students substitute coding for foreign language or physical education courses required for a high school diploma. The idea is also tucked into the education plan of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.

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Governor's Race
5:53 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Crist Would Push Lawmakers To Expand Health Care Coverage

Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist told the Miami Herald editorial board that he wants a special session to try and convince lawmakers to expand state-run health care coverage for low-income residents.
Credit John O'Connor / WLRN

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist says if he’s elected, he wants a special session to expand a state-run health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

Crist says Florida could cover an additional one million people by expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.

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StateImpact Florida
6:54 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Why Taking More Breaks Can Help Students Get More Done

The tomato-shaped timer that gives the Pomodoro Technique its name.
Credit jbn97 / Flickr

Set a goal. Work hard. Then, take a short break to recharge.

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StateImpact Florida
5:15 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

How Miami Coding Camps Are Teaching Students Old-School Logic

CodeNow's Kareem Grant works with students during a June coding camp in Miami. Grant likes that coding requires disciplined thinking.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Ryan Seashore starts off every CodeNow workshop with a simple request: Write out step-by-step instructions for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Then a CodeNow teacher pretends to be a robot, and follows the students’ orders exactly as they’re written.

Students quickly find that asking a computer to perform an everyday task isn’t so easy.

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Broward Schools
2:23 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Broward County Property Owners Will Pay More For Public Schools

Broward County property owners will pay a little more for public schools next year.
Credit classblog / Flickr

Broward County property owners could pay a little more for public schools next year.

The county school board tentatively approved a $3 billion spending plan Tuesday.

The Broward County schools’ budget cuts tax rates slightly, but rising property values will mean larger tax bills for homeowners. The owner of a $225,000 home would pay $14 more per year, district officials said.

The school board is expected to take a final budget vote in September.

In November, Broward County voters will determine whether to allow the district to borrow $800 million.

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StateImpact Florida
9:00 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Trouble With Algebra Problems? A Solution In Miami Classrooms

Teacher Sara Weinberg talks Miami Northwestern High School students through an Algebra Project assignment.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Math is a language. And like any language, teachers need to help students translate the language into terms they understand.

“This idea is to learn a language you have to talk it... you have to engage in it,” says Algebra Project founder Bob Moses.

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StateImpact Florida
5:53 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Algebra Project Teaches Miami Kids To Write Better Math Problems

Algebra Project founder Bob Moses.
Credit miller_center / Flickr

Fifty years ago Bob Moses organized volunteers to register voters in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer.

And for decades, Moses has been fighting for civil rights as an educator.

He won a MacArthur Genius Grant to develop a new way to teach algebra in largely low-income and minority schools.

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StateImpact Florida
3:55 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

Applications For New School Choice Program Higher Than Expected

An advertisement for the new scholarship programs.
Credit Step Up For Students

If you want one of the roughly 1,800 new scholarships for students with disabilities that allows parents to mix and match services for their children, you better get an application in soon.

More than 1,200 families applied for a Personal Learning Scholarship Account, or PLSA, in the first week of applications. The scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and are intended for students autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other significant learning challenges.

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The Governor's Race
6:19 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Gov. Rick Scott Wants Job Training, Teacher Internships To Develop STEM Workers

Gov. Rick Scott stopped in Boca Raton on July 21 to talk about his ideas for encouraging more students into science, technology, engineering and math jobs.
Credit John O'Connor / WLRN

Gov. Rick Scott spent Monday touring high-tech South Florida companies looking to hire.

He wants to make sure firms like Boca Raton's Modernizing Medicine, which designs electronic medical record systems, have workers ready.

“I’ve got kids and even... grandkids – the jobs of the future are going to be science, technology, engineering and math-related," said Scott, a Republican. "So we need to do workforce training in those areas.”

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StateImpact Florida
10:35 pm
Sun July 20, 2014

What We Learned From A Year Watching Schools Prepare For Florida's New Standards

Darlene Paul, principal of West Defuniak Elementary, speaks to a student during a visit to a third-grade classroom. Paul says she has been impressed with the academic success of young students who have been taught only using the new Florida Standards.
Credit Jackie Mader / The Hechinger Report

For the past year the Hechinger Report and StateImpact Florida have taken you into two schools to hear what preparations for Florida’s new Common Core-based standards sound like. The standards outline what students should know in math and language arts. When classes start this fall every grade in every Florida public school will use them. But are schools ready?

Now, we share with you what we've learned along with the Hechinger Report's Jackie Mader.

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Politics
11:35 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Charlie Crist Announces Running Mate From Miami

Charlie Crist announced Miami-Dade Democratic Party chair Annette Taddeo-Goldstein will be his running mate.
Credit Charlie Crist Facebook

When Charlie Crist stopped at a converted warehouse for Miami entrepreneurs, 12-year-old Andrew Castro handed him a miniature state of Florida produced by a 3-D printer.

“A little Florida! Thank you," Crist said.

Crist was at LAB Miami Thursday morning because he thinks another South Floridian can help hand him the whole state this fall -- Annette Taddeo-Goldstein.

Taddeo-Goldstein was born in Colombia, is chairman of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party and owns a translation business. She unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2008.

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StateImpact Florida
6:21 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Students React To The Closure Of A Giant For-Profit College

An Everest Institute campus in Boston. Parent company Corinthian Colleges is closing Massachusetts campuses, but selling Florida campuses.
Credit Kirk Carapezza / WGBH

After a long reign as the fastest-growing and most problematic sector in higher education, for-profit colleges are on the ropes.

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