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Book battles create confusion, turmoil for Florida schools

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
 
The Florida Department of Education has demanded lists of books and programs public schools are using, and warned against including any material that violates state law. Some district officials and educators say the rules are vague.
The Florida Department of Education has demanded lists of books and programs public schools are using, and warned against including any material that violates state law. Some district officials and educators say the rules are vague. [ SARAH A. MILLER | Idaho Statesman ]
Published March 3, 2023

The big story: Florida state officials have been paying a large amount of attention to the content of books in the public schools.

They’ve demanded lists of what’s there. They’ve warned against including anything that violates state law.

Some school board members say the message is crystal clear: The state wants to control what goes on in the schools without interference.

The rules and laws, on the other hand, remain murky to many. Districts across the state have interpreted new requirements on reviewing books in several ways, leading to all sorts of outcomes, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Marion County school district officials said they’re finding it a challenge to implement the state rules on library books, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. • Collier and Lee counties have varying approaches to dealing with book challenges, the Naples Daily News reports. Combined, they’ve removed or restricted 42 books this year. • Bay County teachers have begun their library book reviews, the Panama City News Herald reports. So far, two titles have been submitted for reconsideration.

Meanwhile, a conservative group has called for Indian River County school district to temporarily remove of all the social studies books adopted in 2016, pending the outcome of a legal challenge to the adoption process, TC Palm reports.

Hot topics

Vouchers: Supporters of expanded vouchers and education savings accounts say it would bolster families’ schooling choices, while critics argue it’s gambling with children’s education, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Teacher unions: Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association leaders criticized a proposed “teachers bill of rights” bill, saying it would take away teachers’ freedoms and potentially kill collective bargaining, Bay News 9 reports.

Superintendents: A state lawmaker called on Escambia County superintendent Tim Smith to resign after having not taken actions she asked him to take. Smith said he won’t, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Sex education: The Broward County school district made dramatic revisions to its sex education website, then quickly changed it back after people noticed, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Security: The Palm Beach County school district set forth new emergency protocols that would require notifying parents within 20 minutes of an incident, with regular updates afterward, WPBF reports.

Funding: The State Board of Education held a conference call meeting to accept Gov. Ron DeSantis’ education budget proposal as its own, The Capitolist reports.

Other school news

A newly elected Palm Beach County School Board member wants a new high school in Riviera Beach. The area has plenty of high school aged children, but most don’t attend public schools, raising questions of whether new construction would be worth it, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Florida state college enrollment hit a peak before the pandemic. New estimates project the numbers won’t fully rebound for another six years, WFLA reports.

The Florida lottery funds Bright Futures scholarships. Proposed legislation would take a percentage of the proceeds away from the scholarships to give Lotto ticket sellers a larger commission, Seeking Rents reports.

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

Before you go ... Willie Nelson is on the road again, leading up to his 90th birthday celebration. Today he drops a new album (do we still call them that?) and plays the Strawberry Festival in Plant City. See you there!

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