Bills on race lessons, testing and term limits advance in Florida Legislature

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Florida Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., speaks during a debate over legislation dealing with race lessons in schools, at the Florida State Capitol, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Florida Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., speaks during a debate over legislation dealing with race lessons in schools, at the Florida State Capitol, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) [ WILFREDO LEE | AP ]
Published Mar. 10, 2022

The big story: A day after sending legislation to limit lessons about gender to the governor, the Florida Senate took up an equally divisive bill about race lessons.

Senators spent hours debating HB 7, which supporters contended bolsters individual freedoms while critics claimed it would restrict freedom.

At issue is the question of whether school teachers attempt to “persuade or indoctrinate” children to feel guilt or blame about negative historical truths such as slavery. The bill addresses similar concerns relating to diversity training in businesses.

While Republicans have aimed to eliminate what they’re calling “critical race theory,” Democrats argued that the goal really appears to be eliminating discussion about diversity, inclusion and related topics.

The Senate didn’t vote on the proposal, rolling it to final consideration as early as today. Read the story from Florida Politics. More from Florida Phoenix.

Tallahassee action

Lawmakers sent a bill to the governor’s desk aimed at replacing some spring testing with progress monitoring. The measure had been a priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis, the News Service of Florida reports. Some teacher organizations argued the bill does not go far enough, and still emphasizes testing over learning, the Miami Times reports. More from Florida Phoenix.

A measure to create term limits for school board members moved forward in the Senate. It called for 12-year limits, compared to eight in the House version, meaning the House would have to agree for the bill to get to the governor’s desk, Florida Politics reports.

A bill to make it easier for charter schools to win approval also is on its way to DeSantis. The measure arose after the Hillsborough County School Board stood in the way of four charter renewals, which state officials said violated state rules, reports.

Today in Tallahassee: The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. Bills available for final consideration include HB 7 on “individual freedoms” and race lessons. • The House is scheduled to meet at noon. Bills available for second reading include HB 155 on certificates of completion and SB 1122 on workforce education. • Throughout the day, budget negotiators are expected to continue hashing out unresolved details in the education spending plans.

Other school news

The University of South Florida is getting closer to choosing its next president. Campus visits are planned for the two finalists in advance of interviews and a vote.

A group of Brevard County parents has called for some books to be removed from schools. A separate group emerged to oppose the idea of banning books, Florida Today reports.

The St. Johns County school district has reached a contract deal with its teacher union. The tentative agreement provides raises for new and veteran teachers, as well as for athletic coaches, WJXT reports.

Rising fuel costs are taking their toll on school districts. Officials said the price of diesel could lead to budget shifts impacting other areas of operation, WKMG reports.

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The Alachua County School Board submitted names for its interim superintendent. The current deputy superintendent is in the mix, WCJB reports. The board fired Carlee Simon about a week ago.

A Broward County teacher hospitalized after being attacked by a 5-year-old student needs surgery. Union officials said it’s not the first time the child has attacked a teacher, WSVN reports.

The Palm Beach County School Board unanimously approved new attendance zones for elementary schools in the Boca Raton area. Community pushback over the effort had been contentious for months, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

From the police blotter ... A Miami-Dade County teen was hospitalized after being shot in the leg from a drive-by shooting while sitting in class, WFOR reports. • At least 10 students were hospitalized after a fight at their Palm Beach County high school, after an officer used pepper spray as part of crowd control efforts, WPTV reports.

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

Before you go ... Looking for a quick hint to help your child become a stronger reader? How about sound boxes?

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