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Florida’s ‘intellectual freedom’ survey divides college campuses

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
A view from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg  campus in front of the USF St. Pete University Student Center on Monday, March 21, 2022 in St. Petersburg.
A view from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus in front of the USF St. Pete University Student Center on Monday, March 21, 2022 in St. Petersburg. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published May 10|Updated May 10

The big story: Contending Florida’s university campuses do not welcome all viewpoints, state lawmakers approved a measure calling for an annual faculty and student survey, beginning this year.

The effort met with an immediate court challenge by instructors who argued that the Republican-led push for “intellectual freedom” would have the opposite effect. Information gathered in preparation for arguments has revealed a set of proposed questions, some of which never made the final form, that raised added concerns about the goal of the initiative.

Opponents of the questionnaire argued that the versions indicate a desire to police speech and intrude upon private views. Proponents counter that the university system has a compelling interest to foster viewpoint diversity.

Meanwhile, about 3 percent of university students and staff have responded. Read the full story here.

Leaders of two Florida campuses warned that political interference in curriculum appears to be driving away potential faculty and students, Florida Politics reports.

Hot topics

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Miami's Freedom Tower, Monday, May 9, 2022, in Miami. DeSantis approved two bills, one establishing November 7 as "Victims of Communism Day" and another bill to rename roads across the state for notable Cubans. The governor also announced that he will approve $25 million to renovate and restore the Freedom Tower. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Miami's Freedom Tower, Monday, May 9, 2022, in Miami. DeSantis approved two bills, one establishing November 7 as "Victims of Communism Day" and another bill to rename roads across the state for notable Cubans. The governor also announced that he will approve $25 million to renovate and restore the Freedom Tower. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) [ MARTA LAVANDIER | AP ]

Required instruction: Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure aimed at ensuring that public school students learn about the “evils of communism,” the News Service of Florida reports. DeSantis spent part of his comment criticizing what he contended was a rise in communist sympathies on college and university campuses, Florida Phoenix reports.

HB 1557: Passage into law of a measure limiting instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity, which sponsors called the Parental Rights in Education bill, has some wondering which parents get their rights protected, the Washington Post reports. • A Seminole County high school planned to cover up yearbook photos of students’ protest of the law, which had some students decrying the move as censorship, the Orlando Sentinel reports. More from WOFL.

Math textbooks: Some Tampa Bay area school districts are waiting for the state to complete its review of appeals for rejected math textbooks before making their final purchase orders, WUSF reports.

School board politics: Florida Republicans are taking school board elections seriously this year, as they attempt to fill seats with conservatives who support their agenda, the Florida USA Today Network reports.

Superintendent turnover: The Volusia County School Board will consider offering its top post to recently departed deputy superintendent Carmen Balgobin, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Other school news

Tampa Bay area high schools are naming their top graduates for 2022. Meet the valedictorians and salutatorians for Hillsborough County’s public and private schools.

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A Miami-Dade County mom is under investigation for allegedly trespassing at a school to attack a student. New details indicate the woman’s daughter unlocked the door to let her in, WPLG reports.

The Citrus County School Board has said it wants athletic trainers at all its high schools. It will hear a proposal from another possible provider at its next meeting, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Leon County has seen charter school enrollment grow by 32 percent over the past two years. The number represents about 6.6 percent of all school-age children in Leon public schools, Tallahassee Reports reports.

The Marion County school district was recognized by the state for exemplary instruction of Black history. It is the eleventh district in Florida to earn the distinction, WCJB reports.

A Lake County high school teacher was accused of running a ‘cult’ on campus. The School Board allowed him to resign instead of being fired, the Daily Commercial reports.

From the court docket ... Jury selection in the sentencing of the 2018 Parkland school shooter has been delayed another week, WTVJ reports

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... How about a little Native American hip-hop, with a nod to the great Bob Marley?

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