Today on Context Florida: Legislative issues, Pop Tart guns, pizza parties and VAMs

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Today on Context Florida: Peter Schorsch provides a glimpse into the issues that will determine the 2014 legislative session, which begins tomorrow. In making the sausage over the next 60 days, many bills will die an undignified death, and the rest will look markedly different from how they began.

Children have the right to pretend Pop Tarts are a gun, writes Bob Sparks, in a bill to introduce “common sense” in a zero-tolerance school policy. The bill, which has rare bipartisan support, bans “brandishing a partially consumed pastry or other food item to simulate a firearm or weapon,” and “possessing a toy firearm or weapon that is 2 inches or less in overall length” from becoming a punishable offense.

A Maryland school that held an “Academic Achievement Celebration” pizza party only for students with “A” grades makes other students feel inferior, parents said. John Grant believes it sets goals for all students to aim for.

When the Florida Times-Union published the Florida Department of Education database of teacher-evaluations information under a public records lawsuit, Julie Delegal notes that releasing employment records is only the latest problem plaguing the controversial “value added model” (VAM) program.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.