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Florida’s ‘critical race theory’ debate lands at the State Board of Education today

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Education commissioner Richard Corcoran and State Board of Education chairman Andy Tuck at the board's Sept. 23, 2020, meeting in the Florida Holocaust Museum. The board will consider a rule that Gov. Ron DeSantis says will keep "critical race theory" out of the public schools.
Education commissioner Richard Corcoran and State Board of Education chairman Andy Tuck at the board's Sept. 23, 2020, meeting in the Florida Holocaust Museum. The board will consider a rule that Gov. Ron DeSantis says will keep "critical race theory" out of the public schools. [ The Florida Channel ]
Published Jun. 10
Updated Jun. 10

Today the State Board of Education takes up the proposed administrative rule that Gov. Ron DeSantis has touted as his way to keep “critical race theory” out of Florida’s public schools. The rule doesn’t mention by name that college-level academic approach that most district officials say they don’t use. It has raised the concerns of many teachers, though, who worry about the language that appears to threaten punishment for “indoctrinating” students or voicing their opinions in classrooms. The Florida Education Association has offered some alternate wording it says might get at the state’s goal of teaching historical facts, not opinion, and eyes turn to the governor-appointed board to see how it will handle the debate. Watch for yourself on The Florida Channel, starting at 9 a.m. Now, on to today’s Florida education news.

Hot topics

Charter schools: It’s taken years for Florida’s “Schools of Hope” charter school program to get off the ground. The model is gaining traction in Hillsborough County, where one company is busy building campuses while another has announced its planned entry into the area.

School masks: For some school districts, changing mask rules isn’t quick. The Clay County School Board advertised a hearing to consider amending its policy in time for fall classes, Clay Today reports.

Yearbooks: The Broward County high school where yearbook sales were suspended amid complaints about a Black Lives Matter spread has begun distributing the book again. It now contains a disclaimer from the district, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

School board seats: An Alachua County School Board member faces questions about her residency. She claims she can prove she lives in the district she was elected to represent, the Gainesville Sun reports. A legal challenge may be in the offing, the Sun reports.

Other school news

‘No surprises’ in Florida’s education budget. Bay County school district officials said they’re struggling to keep up with inflation despite increased base student allocation, the Panama City News Herald reports.

The Manatee County School Board wants voters to consider extending a local-option property tax. The County Commission agreed to allow the district to hold a special election this year, but afterward wants any future referendums to be held when more voters are likely to participate, the Bradenton Herald reports.

Getting there is half the battle. A Polk County community pleads for relief from traffic generated by a nearby private school, the Ledger reports.

‘We survived it.’ A class of Miami-Dade County ninth graders self-published a book with their teacher about how they coped with the pandemic, the Miami Herald reports.

Calling it a career. After 58 years in education, 80-year-old Dee Wolfe Smith will retire from her Escambia County principal’s post, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

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

Before you go ... Graduation for the Class of 2021 is in the books for Tampa area high schools. Thousands of teens had their moment on the stage — hopefully their names were pronounced correctly — and they got those empty diploma folders with the promise of the real thing to come. All together, it’s a lot to take in. Thanks to the Pinellas County school district for its 3-minute compilation video that captures what’s best about all the pomp and circumstance.