Florida universities cleared to quiz students, staff about politics

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
A view of Library West at the center of the University of Florida campus in Gainesville.
A view of Library West at the center of the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. [ University of Florida ]
Published April 4, 2022

The big story: What does intellectual diversity look like on Florida university campuses?

We’re about to find out.

A federal judge on Friday paved the way for the schools to send out voluntary surveys asking students and staff members about their political preferences and their campus political climate. The questionnaire comes as the result of recent legislation directing universities to protect intellectual freedoms, amid conservatives’ contention that some viewpoints were being discouraged, chilling open debate.

Some faculty groups have called for a boycott of the survey. The plaintiffs still have time to appeal.

Get the story here.

Hot topics

Gender issues: A St. Johns County teacher faced a parent complaint for wearing a t-shirt with the words “Protect Trans Kids,” WTLV reports. The school asked the teacher to change. • A new member of the State Board of Education called the shirt “unacceptable,” Florida Politics reports. • The Palm Beach County school district removed two books about transgender children from its shelves for a review, the Palm Beach Post reports. (Subscription required)

“Parental rights” legislation: Teachers across the nation are pushing back as states including Florida advance measures enhancing the powers parents have in making education decisions for their children, The 19th reports.

Taxes: The Pasco County school district made incorrect withholdings on several employees’ federal income taxes. The workers will have to pay the difference, WFTS reports.

Vouchers: Children of police officers will be eligible for private school vouchers under new law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida Politics reports.

Other school news

The pandemic made field trips all but impossible. Duval County schools turned to virtual field trips as teachers sought to keep classes interesting without traveling to different locations, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Volusia County superintendent Scott Fritz decided to end his contract amid school board delays in considering renewal. Before he goes, Fritz sent a parents letter detailing his accomplishments, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Nassau County’s housing development and population are booming. School district officials are expressing worries about how they can handle rapid student enrollment increases, Florida Politics reports.

Beyond the classroom ... A Pinellas County elementary school teacher helps students learn about their global identity through after-school dance lessons.

From the police blotter ... A Pasco County culinary arts teacher was arrested on allegations of inappropriate behavior with students, WTVT reports.

From the court docket ... Lawyers will have about 1,500 potential jurors to choose among as they begin penalty phase hearings for the teen who killed 17 and injured dozens at a 2018 Parkland school massacre, the Associated Press reports.

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Before you go ... By now you probably heard that the surviving members of Lynryd Skynyrd wrote a campaign song for Gov. Ron DeSantis. Remember when it was Sweet Home Alabama for the Jacksonville based group?

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