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Florida teachers raise red flags over new state civics materials

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Ashley Johnson teaches civics to seventh graders at Lauderdale Lakes Middle on the first day of school in Broward on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. Teachers are raising concerns about new civics materials being presented to them for the 2022-23 school year.
Ashley Johnson teaches civics to seventh graders at Lauderdale Lakes Middle on the first day of school in Broward on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. Teachers are raising concerns about new civics materials being presented to them for the 2022-23 school year. [ SCOTT TRAVIS | Staff  ]
Published Jun. 29|Updated Jun. 29

The big story: Since before his election, Gov. Ron DeSantis talked about the need to improve civics education in Florida’s public schools.

Lawmakers agreed to revise the state’s standards on the topic in 2020, and supported the governor’s 2021 executive order to further “raise the bar.” The state Department of Education then drafted a new set of revisions to what gets taught.

Fast forward to this summer, when teachers are attending sessions to prepare for presenting the latest lessons. They’ve found materials infused with Christian and conservative ideology.

“It is disturbing, really, that through these workshops and through legislation, there is this attempt to both censor and to drive or propagandize particular points of view,” said Richard Judd, 50, a Nova High School social studies teacher with 22 years of experience.

State officials responded that the materials teach history, and do not indoctrinate. Read more here.

Hot topics

The Florida Department of Education released 2022 spring math and language arts test results on Tuesday. [Pasco County School District]
The Florida Department of Education released 2022 spring math and language arts test results on Tuesday. [Pasco County School District]

Testing: The Florida Department of Education released spring math and language arts scores, with officials saying achievement gaps among subgroups had narrowed, WPTV reports. The percentage of students scoring at Level 3 or above continued to hover around 50 percent in all subject areas. See the full results here.

School safety: The Alachua County school district reversed course on plans to allow only clear book bags and backpacks amid furious community response, the Gainesville Sun reports. • The Palm Beach County school district is responding to a teacher’s complaints that some classroom doors do not lock, WPTV reports.

Superintendent turnover: Orange County’s next superintendent will be its deputy superintendent Maria Vazquez, WESH reports.

Substitute shortage: The Bay County school district increased its hourly pay for substitute teachers by $3in an effort to attract more people to the job, WMBB reports.

Growth: The Sarasota County School Board approved its first school impact fee increase in six years, to help pay for new schools as enrollment rapidly rises, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Gender lessons: Orange County school district officials tried to answer rumors about plans to implement Florida’s new law regarding instruction on gender orientation, WOFL reports.

Other school news

Philanthropists Frank and Carol Morsani made a $7 million gift to the University of South Florida.
Philanthropists Frank and Carol Morsani made a $7 million gift to the University of South Florida. [ Courtesy of Vince Vanni ]
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The University of South Florida received another multimillion-dollar donation from local philanthropists Frank and Carol Morsani. The $7 million gift will go toward scholarships and teaching positions.

A Polk County educator has been named Florida principal of the year. Adam Lane of Haines City High is now in the running for the national award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the district announced.

A Florida Virtual School 10th grade English teacher is encouraging students to bring pets to class. Danielle Wolfe says pets help lower stress for the teens, some of whom struggle through school, Spectrum 13 reports.

A Broward County principal was reassigned to a different school after complaints about a student fight. One parent wants the principal to be further disciplined, WTVJ reports.

A Lee County teacher was suspended indefinitely. She was accused of dragging and striking a student, WINK reports.

From the court docket ... A jury has now been empaneled for the sentencing phase in the 2018 Parkland school shooting trial, Associated Press reports.

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

Before you go ... Diana Ross did the new song for the Minions. You know you want to check it out.

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