Monday, April 2, 2012

Florida education commissioner taps well-connected parents for task force

When Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson created a task force to cool down a brouhaha over a new school grading formula, he tapped Miami-Dade schools chief Alberto Carvalho and other superintendents, principals, teachers and parents.

Two of those parents, Patricia Levesque and Julie Weinberg, have children with disabilities ? and strong political connections.

Levesque is a veteran lobbyist with close ties to former Gov. Jeb Bush. She worked on his staff and now directs the former governor?s Foundation for Florida?s Future. The nonprofit wields strong influence in state education policy; this past session, it pushed for a slate of legislation, including the failed ?parent trigger? bill.

Weinberg is the daughter of state Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine. According to the Orlando Sentinel, she convinced Gov. Rick Scott to visit the elementary school her children attend in Orlando last year.

Last week the state Board of Education reviewed, but didn?t vote on, the task force?s recommendations for counting students with disabilities and students learning English in the grading formula.

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