Small Christian college in Michigan influences Florida education policy

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran speaks about his education philosophy during a May 5 speech at Hillsdale College in Michigan.
Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran speaks about his education philosophy during a May 5 speech at Hillsdale College in Michigan. [ Hillsdale College / YouTube ]
Published July 5, 2022

The big story: There’s a small college that’s having a huge influence on Florida education politics under Gov. Ron DeSantis.

And the school isn’t anywhere near Florida.

Hillsdale College, a tiny religious private school in Michigan, has the governor’s ear as he proposes a variety of the state’s most controversial ideas, such as blocking textbooks over “indoctrinating” concepts or infusing civics standards with an originalist view of the nation.

DeSantis, along with other top officials including former education commissioner Richard Corcoran, have headed north to make proclamations about their plans for the Sunshine State. And they’ve relied on students and faculty from Hillsdale to help implement those plans.

“I mean how many places, other than Hillsdale, are actually standing for truth, excellence and to produce people who will be leaders?” DeSantis said during one speech.

Read more here.

On Friday, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State called for an investigation of Hillsdale’s participation in training Florida teachers on new civics materials, Florida Phoenix reports.

Meanwhile, a Tennessee television station reported on some comments by Hillsdale’s president regarding his thoughts about teachers, such as this: “The teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.”

Hot topics

Library books: A Sarasota County man asked a circuit court to order the removal of books he claimed were sexually explicit from district schools, Patch reports.

School prayer: Brevard County school district officials said prayer at school sporting events is common and they had no problems with the Supreme Court’s latest ruling on coaches praying, Florida Today reports.

School board races: An incumbent Palm Beach County board member faces a challenge from three candidates who base their campaigns on a conservative parental rights platform, the Palm Beach Post reports. • Polk County residents began receiving anonymous text messages falsely accusing an incumbent board member of being under criminal investigation, the Ledger reports. Her opponents deny any involvement. • A Broward County School Board candidate dropped out, citing time concerns, and endorsed a different hopeful who’s seeking to replace the retiring incumbent, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Budget cutting: Brevard County School Board members consider consolidating smaller schools to save money, Florida Today reports.

Testing: Florida school districts saw some gains in student performance on spring testing, the Palm Beach Post reports. More from the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Teacher shortage: The Florida Education Association estimated the state has 9,500 teaching vacancies heading to the 2022-23 academic year, WJXT reports.

Teacher discipline: A Lee County first grade teacher was suspended without pay on accusations of pushing and striking a student, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

Higher education: Critics of Gov. Ron DeSantis have big concerns about the direction he wants to take the state’s college and university systems, the Washington Post reports.

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Before you go ... It’s the middle of peach season, so this ‘90s grunge tune from the Presidents of the United States of America seem appropriate. As a plus, it’s got Al Yankovic sitting in. Enjoy. Then go eat some peaches.

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