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Florida lawmakers argue universities need more space for free speech

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Protestors chant and stand outside of the University Auditorium prior to the speech of Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle at the University of Florida on October 10, 2019.
Protestors chant and stand outside of the University Auditorium prior to the speech of Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle at the University of Florida on October 10, 2019. [ CHRIS DAY | Chris Day ]
Published Apr. 8
Updated Apr. 8

For a few years now, some of Florida’s Republican lawmakers have contended that the state’s universities and colleges are unwelcoming to people who share their conservative beliefs. The schools, they’ve said, are hotbeds for liberalism with no space for intellectual diversity. Legislation they’ve pushed to tackle that perception consistently fell short, particularly in the Senate. Until now. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

What do they think? Citing a need to overcome the “cancel culture,” the Florida Senate approved a bill — after some heated debate — that would require a survey of university students and faculty about their viewpoints and beliefs. The measure now heads to the governor, Florida Politics reports. More from Fresh Take Florida.

Some state lawmakers want to end school board member salaries. Is the idea sexist? Florida Phoenix reports.

The House gave an initial nod to its budget proposal. It differs from the Senate on some key education funding issues, Florida Politics reports. • Winners and losers in the process have started to emerge, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The Senate Education Appropriations subcommittee meets at 9 a.m. • The full House holds floor session at 9 a.m., with its education budget bills up for final consideration. • The full Senate convenes at 2 p.m., when it has a controversial Bright Futures bill up for third and final reading. • The House Appropriations Committee meets at 5:30 p.m., with its chamber’s version of a school voucher bill up for review.

School news

The Bay County school district is asking voters to approve a tax increase that would help boost teacher pay. A former School Board member is advocating against the measure, the Panama City News Herald reports.

They’re filled with potential. A coalition of Martin County organizations created a college scholarship to help low-income children, TC Palm reports.

A Putnam County charter school wants to add sixth grade in the fall. It’s fighting back after the School Board denied its request, the Palatka Daily News reports.

The Taylor County school district hired a law firm to examine its hiring practices for racial discrimination. The consultant recommended several steps for the district to improve its employee diversity, WCTV reports.

Coronavirus concerns

No prom? A Sarasota County nonprofit wants to give some high school seniors something to celebrate, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Some parents don’t want their children in schools for testing this spring. The state requirement has them helpless and upset, WTXL reports. Many worry about how the scores will be used, Spectrum 13 reports.

Others looking more long term want to keep their kids learning from home next year. It’s not yet clear what their choices will be, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Some central Florida districts have said they’ll end certain online options, while others are are still assessing the possibilities, WFTV reports.

From the police blotter ... A Duval County high school teacher has been arrested on allegations that she solicited an inappropriate relationship with a student, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Looking for a story you missed? Yesterday’s roundup is a click away.

Before you go ... It’s International Dark Sky Week. Florida has a handful of dark sky sites. What do you see at night when you look up?