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Activists push changes in Florida tuition, financial aid proposals

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Opponents of a measure to alter Florida's Bright Futures scholarship program spoke to the Senate Education Appropriations subcommittee from a remote site on March 23, 2021. They won some concessions.
Opponents of a measure to alter Florida's Bright Futures scholarship program spoke to the Senate Education Appropriations subcommittee from a remote site on March 23, 2021. They won some concessions. [ The Florida Channel ]
Published Mar. 24
Updated Mar. 24

How often can you say students win a political debate with lawmakers? They took a round this week, as their coordinated campaign to defang a bill that aimed to reduce Bright Futures scholarships led to a major rewrite of the measure. (Did it seem too easy, though? As if this was just a prelude to something else?) Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

The Senate Education Appropriations subcommittee blessed a scaled back version of the Bright Futures bill. Even with the changes, some critics still had concerns.

Speaking of college costs ... The Senate also advanced legislation that would offer in-state tuition to high achieving out-of-state students whose grandparents live in Florida.

The Senate also had LGBTQ student rights in its sights. The Education Committee approved a bill limiting transgender students’ participation in school sports, despite a pushback from advocates, Florida Politics reports. The same committee okayed a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” measure that opponents said could out LGBTQ children to their parents before they’re ready, Florida Politics reports.

Many parents like the “Bill of Rights” legislation. They say they should be able to educate and otherwise raise their children as they see fit, without government interference, WPEC reports.

Lawmakers have talked about creating alternate charter school authorizers for years. Another bill to do so is gaining traction in the Senate, the News Service of Florida reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The other shoe drops as the House Education & Employment Committee takes up a proposed school choice bill when it meets at noon. • Want to know where the Senate is headed on education spending? Its budget proposals are due to be unveiled at the Education Appropriations subcommittee meeting at 4:30 p.m.

School news

Test, test again. Some Pinellas County high school juniors wound up retaking their SAT exam after learning they had received the wrong version on their first try.

Save our SRO. Students at Hillsborough County’s Middleton High School are coming to the defense of officer Delvin White, who was fired for using a racial slur. The officer is Black, as are a majority of students at Middleton.

Who patrols the schools? A Palm Beach County School Board member says the district should reconsider hiring the Sheriff’s Office, the Palm Beach Post reports. But she dropped her proposal at the urging of the superintendent, the Post reports.

An Orange County middle school is working hard to shed its former name of a Confederate general. Its new Roberto Clemente mural was unveiled this week, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

A Duval County teacher was required to remove a Black Lives Matter banner from her classroom at Robert E. Lee High. Some members of the community complained she was advancing an organization to influence students, WJXT reports.

Coronavirus concerns

Sing, sing a song. The Brevard County School Board is contemplating whether to ease some of its coronavirus restrictions, such as indoor performances, WKMG reports.

Who loves school at home? New Census figures show Florida among the states with large gains in homeschooling amid the pandemic, NPR reports.

Getting back to normal. Florida International University is the latest to announce it will return to a more usual in-person course schedule starting in the summer semester, the Miami Herald reports.

Schools are preparing for a summer of catching up. The St. Lucie County district is expanding its summer programs in anticipation of larger than usual participation, TC Palm reports.

From the court docket ... A federal judge ruled against Lynn University’s attempt to dismiss a class-action lawsuit by students seeking partial tuition and fee refunds from after classes moved online because of the pandemic, Law 360 reports.

From the board room

Stay in the sunshine. A Citrus County charter school’s board faces questions of whether it violated state open meetings rules, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Carry on. A judge ruled the Seminole County School Board may continue with its selection of a superintendent, WKMG reports. A parent sought an injunction, claiming the board violated its policies. More from the Orlando Sentinel.

A Manatee County School Board member is a finalist to be county administrator. The commission plans to conduct more background checks before making a selection, the Bradenton Herald reports.

Don’t miss a story. Here’s the link to yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go ... Haven’t been inside a school lately? Us neither. The Pasco County school district is posting some virtual tours to provide a sense of how things are going these days. Here’s Watergrass Elementary. Is it like what your kids and teachers are experiencing?