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Florida law limits race lessons in schools. A lawsuit quickly follows.

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Kids holding signs against Critical Race Theory stand on stage near Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as he addresses the crowd before publicly signing HB7, "individual freedom," also dubbed the "stop woke" bill during a news conference at Mater Academy Charter Middle/High School in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., on Friday, April 22, 2022. DeSantis also signed two other bills into laws including one regarding the "big tech" bill signed last year but set aside due to a court ruling, and the special districts bill, which relates to the Reedy Creek Improvement District. (Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald via AP)
Kids holding signs against Critical Race Theory stand on stage near Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as he addresses the crowd before publicly signing HB7, "individual freedom," also dubbed the "stop woke" bill during a news conference at Mater Academy Charter Middle/High School in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., on Friday, April 22, 2022. DeSantis also signed two other bills into laws including one regarding the "big tech" bill signed last year but set aside due to a court ruling, and the special districts bill, which relates to the Reedy Creek Improvement District. (Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald via AP) [ DANIEL A. VARELA | AP ]
Published Apr. 25, 2022

The big story: Top Florida Republican officials made no secret of their desire to rid the state’s public schools of what they are calling “critical race theory” and any types of lessons that tell children they are inherently racist.

Children should attend school to get an education, not an indoctrination, Gov. Ron DeSantis said, insisting that the system must not teach lessons about race that foster hatred of the nation. Opponents countered that the Republicans were trying to rewrite history to ignore negative truths.

On Friday, the governor signed into law a measure he said would protect everyone’s individual freedoms. A federal lawsuit challenging the new law came soon afterward, the News Service of Florida reports. Critics argued the indoctrination was coming from the law, not from the lessons it aimed to mute.

The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of Florida, aims to stop the law and a State Board of Education rule that also limits lessons about race in the public schools.

Meanwhile, some school districts already began moving to stop teachers from having anything considered potentially political in their classrooms. Several Sarasota County teachers said they were told to remove items such as a “Coexist” banner and a Pride flag, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Hot topics

School start times: Aiming to make its bus routes more efficient, the Pinellas County school district is preparing to change the bell schedules for a dozen schools.

Book bans: The Walton County school district is coming under fire for removing a popular 2001 children’s rhyming book about babies, Business Insider reports.

Guidance counseling: Florida school counselors and psychologists worry about how to deal with students who confide in them, in the wake of new state law on gender and race lessons, Rolling Stone reports. • They’re also concerned about the state’s decision to pull out of a CDC-sponsored annual survey on student wellbeing, WESH reports.

Bus driver shortages: Some Pasco County school bus drivers rallied for raises, saying the district’s low salaries are hurting the ability to hire more people, WFLA reports.

Guns on campus: The Escambia County School Board plans to revise its policies so that students age 18 to 21 will no longer be able to store weapons in their vehicles on campuses, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

More education politics

The Sarasota County School Board had a person removed from a recent meeting during public comment. The county sheriff later said he disagreed with the board’s action to silence citizens, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Florida’s path to a new education commissioner is on a fast track. The State Board of Education has called a special meeting for April 29 to consider the governor’s recommendation for the post, the News Service of Florida reports.

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State Rep. Randy Fine threatened to interfere with state funding of the Special Olympics in Brevard County. His threat rose from an ongoing feud with a Brevard School Board member, Florida Today reports.

In higher education

University housing: After a year where it didn’t have enough space for all its incoming freshmen, the University of Tampa announced plans to build dorm rooms for another 600 students.

Student speech: A federal appellate court panel ruled that the University of Central Florida’s policy targeting “discriminatory harassment” appeared to violate the First Amendment, the News Service of Florida reports. More from Inside Higher Ed.

Other school news

The Manatee County school district plans a $39 million renovation of Palmetto High School. It gave residents a look at the new design, the Bradenton Herald reports.

A Santa Rosa County high school is holding its first prom since 2019. When tickets sold out, some parents are offering an alternate prom for students who couldn’t get one, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

A Bay County elementary school teacher was fired amid allegations she bullied and abused students. Angry parents said they are considering filing criminal charges against the teacher, WMBB reports.

From the police blotter ... A Collier County elementary school teacher was arrested on allegations of placing a video camera in a school restroom. WINK reports.

Before you go ... Mdou Moctar’s latest effort, Afrique Victime, recently came out in a deluxe edition. Haven’t heard the well-regarded Tuareg guitarist before? Check out “Nakanegh Dich” from the release.

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