Florida schools stirred up over library books, textbooks

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
A Clockwork Orange, The Bluest Eye and The Awakening are three of several books conservative groups have tried to get removed from Florida public schools as containing pornographic material.
A Clockwork Orange, The Bluest Eye and The Awakening are three of several books conservative groups have tried to get removed from Florida public schools as containing pornographic material. [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times ]
Published May 12, 2022|Updated May 12, 2022

The big story: It’s books, books and more books.

Florida’s battle over the books that appear in school libraries continued to intensify this week, with the Moms for Liberty group expanding upon the effort to excise materials some consider offensive that the Florida Citizens Alliance launched years ago.

The latest episode has the Brevard County chapter of Moms for Liberty submitting its fourth list of titles it wants to see removed from the shelves, bringing the total to 41 in that district, WKMG reports.

To handle the growing number of challenges, the Brevard School Board approved a new district-wide review system, rather than handling each one at the school level first as had been the procedure, Florida Today reports.

The fight over library books in Brevard has grown increasingly emotional, with some parents accusing the district of “abusing our children” and others criticizing the board for appeasing a group that has “terrorized our schools,” the Daily Beast reports.

It’s a scenario that’s unlikely to fade anytime soon. District officials have said even with the new approach, it could take years to get through the growing stack of books that some have contended are pornographic or otherwise unacceptable. Similar debates are taking place several counties including Polk, where the superintendent rejected most of the challenges and retained the books for circulation, WUSF reports.

At the same time, groups continue to fight over the content of textbooks. Additional reviews of proposed Florida math books have focused on the appropriateness of including a vaudeville-era Jewish divorce joke in one book, The Jewish Chronicle reports.

Meanwhile, a whistleblower has released another set of details on how textbook publishers have overcharged some school districts, which would be a violation of state law if proven, The Capitolist reports.

Hot topics

Superintendent turnover: Lee County’s newly appointed superintendent is to be sworn in on Monday. Voters could decide to eliminate the appointed superintendent job in November, WINK reports. • Noting the high number of superintendents who have left Florida over five years, the Sarasota County School Board discussed giving their chief executive a raise so he stays, the North Port Sun reports.

Teacher pay: Seven Florida school districts faced criticism from the State Board of Education over delays in getting state-approved money for teacher raises into educators’ paychecks, the News Service of Florida reports.

HB 1557: The State Board of Education rebuked the Lee County School Board over allegations it planned to circumvent the state’s new “parental rights” law that limits instruction about gender identity, Politico Florida reports.

Classroom technology: Citrus County schools will get new interactive display panels for teachers to work more seamlessly with their students using laptops and other devices, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

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Other school news

The State Board of Education held its meeting Wednesday in Key West. It’s raised questions about how much taxpayer money and time was spent to get state and school district employees to the location, Florida Phoenix reports.

An Escambia County educator claimed discrimination prevented her promotion. The district’s superintendent has defended the hiring process, but has agreed to review it further to see if it can be improved, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

The Lee County School Board censured one of its members. The action was prompted by a whistleblower complaint against member Chris Patricca, WFTX reports.

Five students were found to have hung a shark carcass at a St. Johns County high school. They won’t face charges, the St. Augustine Record reports.

From the police blotter ... A Palm Beach County middle school teacher was arrested on accusations of having sex with a student, the Palm Beach Post reports. • Three students were arrested after a fight at a Palm Beach County middle school, WPTV reports.

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

Before you go ... Just can’t pass by a cute kitten video.

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