Florida schools start removing books amid reviews prompted by limits in law

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Pinellas County schools chief academic officer Dan Evans tells the School Board why the district removed the Toni Morrison novel "The Bluest Eye" from all high schools, during a board meeting on Jan. 24, 2023.
Pinellas County schools chief academic officer Dan Evans tells the School Board why the district removed the Toni Morrison novel "The Bluest Eye" from all high schools, during a board meeting on Jan. 24, 2023. [ Pinellas County Schools ]
Published Jan. 25, 2023|Updated Jan. 25, 2023

The big story: School districts across Florida have grappled with the state’s new law regarding the selection of library books, and the associated training required for media specialists.

Many educators have complained that the vague language makes it difficult to know what books they can keep available for students. Some worry that other laws, targeting instruction of race and gender issues, might spill over into the question of which titles they have in their libraries and classrooms.

In Pinellas County, that confluence of factors resulted in the removal of prize-winning author Toni Morrison’s first book, “The Bluest Eye,” from all high schools. The district acted after one parent complained about the book in one class at one high school. Read more here.

The Manatee County School Board was slated to hold a special meeting Tuesday to deal with concerns that teachers were removing books from their classrooms because of the laws, WFTV reports. The district had sent out a memo saying violation of the law could result in felony charges.

Hot topics

Testing: Hillsborough County schools saw dramatic improvements in state accountability measures last year. Some critics alleged a top district official urged schools to keep their lowest achievers away from the state tests.

Diversity: Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez told the State University System Board of Governors that the administration seeks to curb diversity and inclusion efforts at Florida’s colleges and universities. • The DeSantis administration has been promoting several contentious policies that have pitted faculty members against college and university leaders, Florida Phoenix reports.

District leadership: The Broward County School Board renewed its decision to part ways with superintendent Vickie Cartwright, the Sun-Sentinel reports. With different membership, the board first moved to fire Cartwright in November. More from the Miami Herald. • The Brevard County School Board plans to pick its new superintendent by May 2, WKMG reports.

Discipline: The Brevard County School Board discussed whether it needs to further refine its student discipline policy, which it revised in early January, WKMG reports.

Choice programs: A progressive think tank estimates that Florida Republicans’ proposed education savings account program could cost the state billions of dollars, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Board politics: An investigative report found that Lee County School Board member Chris Patricca created a hostile work environment with bullying and demeaning behavior, WFTX reports. • A state House member has filed legislation to establish 8-year term limits for school board members, a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis called for the measure, the News Service of Florida reports. New 12-year term limits for board members took effect for those elected in 2022.

African American studies: A noted civil rights attorney plans to file a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis over the rejection of the new AP African American studies course for Florida schools, Florida Phoenix reports. • The College Board intends to release the full framework of the course on Feb. 1, the first day of Black History Month, NPR reports.

Other school news

The Hillsborough County school district has a growing homeless student population. The School Board approved a series of services to help those children and their families, WTVT reports.

The weather outside is frightful. Bay County schools have delayed the start of classes on Wednesday because of forecasts of severe weather, Panama City News Herald reports. Walton County schools made a similar decision, WMBB reports.

TikTok might be popular among students at Florida’s public universities. It soon might be blocked on the campuses, Politico Florida reports.

From the police blotter ... Two Marion County teens were arrested in connection with a gun being found on campus last fall, WESH reports. • A Palm Beach County high school teacher who was arrested with a gun and a knife on campus had previous problems with the police, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Don’t miss a story. The link to yesterday’s roundup is right here.

Before you go ... About that one-hit wonder a-ha. They might have topped the U.S. charts back in 1985, but they’re still making music.

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