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State Board of Education expected to approve new commissioner today

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaking, has recommended state Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., in the background, to become Florida's next education commissioner. The State Board of Education is to take up the nomination on April 29, 2022.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaking, has recommended state Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., in the background, to become Florida's next education commissioner. The State Board of Education is to take up the nomination on April 29, 2022. [ WILFREDO LEE | AP ]
Published Apr. 29

The big story: Florida is poised to get a new point man on public education policy.

State Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., a Hialeah Republican with a long history supporting school choice, charter schools and other planks of his party’s agenda, is Gov. Ron DeSantis’ choice to become the state’s next education commissioner. State Board of Education members, all of whom were appointed by DeSantis, are expected to give their blessing when they meet this morning to consider the appointment.

No search has been conducted, and no other names have been put forward for consideration.

If approved, will Diaz become a political lightning rod like his predecessor? Or does he have another approach in mind? He’s got plenty of controversial issues to tackle in the office, all during a time when education is elevated in the public eye as elections approach. Read all about Diaz before you watch the board meeting at 11 a.m. on The Florida Channel.

Hot topics

Math textbooks: The Florida Department of Education continued to provide little information about why it rejected certain math books, or put some back on the approved list after initial rejection. On its website it offered a comment, without evidence, that publishers were removing “woke content” to get approval. We took a look at what’s inside some of the books.

Social-emotional learning: Gov. Ron DeSantis has turned the concept into a target for conservatives, NPR reports. But what is SEL? The Palm Beach Post offers an explainer.

HB 1557: Some Florida teachers are calling the state’s new law that restricts instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation “hurtful and insulting,” the Guardian reports.

Masks: A Palm Beach County teacher who was found guilty of trespassing after coming to school without a mask last October will return to his job, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Bullying: A Miami-Dade County parent said his daughter’s charter school has done nothing to stop bullying by students despite numerous complaints, WFOR reports.

Other school news

The University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus needs a new regional chancellor. Four finalists remain in the hunt for the job.

The cafeteria workers at a Palm Beach County middle school are building relationships with students. The Lunch Lady Squad is using TikTok videos to create a culture of kindness, WPTV reports.

Ick. A Duval County elementary school shut down its cafeteria because of a rodent infestation, WJXT reports.

Monroe County school district employees can’t easily afford to live where they work. The School Board is discussing ways to bring affordable housing to the area, Keys Weekly reports.

From the court docket ... An Orange County family is suing the school district, contending it delayed reporting an assault of a kindergarten student, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

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