DeSantis slams ‘DEI scam’ as bill to strip university majors advances

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
The battle over diversity, equity and inclusion programs in Florida's higher education system has taken center stage at New College of Florida.
The battle over diversity, equity and inclusion programs in Florida's higher education system has taken center stage at New College of Florida. [ TIFFANY TOMPKINS | Bradenton Herald ]
Published March 14, 2023|Updated March 14, 2023

The big story: Gov. Ron DeSantis continued to press his education agenda on Monday, this time convening a group of educators, students and pundits to push his argument that higher education is “woke.”

Seated before a screen that decried the “DEI scam,” DeSantis and the speakers reeled off their examples of how they view colleges and universities as having been overtaken by purveyors of left-wing indoctrination intent on erasing merit-based decisions and access to a wide range of viewpoints. Read more here.

To bash the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts of the schools, DeSantis relied on test scores from College Board, a group he has vilified in the past, Florida Politics reports.

He and others touted legislative actions such as the pending HB 999 as potential solutions their concerns. The bill made its way through its first committee later in the day, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. It would eliminate some majors that don’t align with the agenda, and also challenge faculty tenure, Florida Phoenix reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The Senate Education PreK-12 Committee will review 12 bills when it convenes at 8:30 a.m. • The House Choice and Innovation subcommittee will consider three bills including HB 1223 on sex education when it meets at 11:30 a.m. • The House Civil Justice subcommittee will take up HB 1035 on teacher rights and responsibilities when it meets at 11:30 a.m. • The Senate Education Appropriations Committee will debate three bills including SB 52 on student social media use when it meets at 1:30 p.m. • The House Education and Employment Committee will take up three bills including HJR 31 on partisan school board races, when it meets at 3 p.m. • The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee will take up SJR 94 on partisan election of school board members when it meets at 4 p.m.

Hot topics

Virtual schooling: For a decade, Florida has required high school students to take at least one online course as a graduation requirement. Lawmakers are on track to drop the mandate.

Teacher voices: Feeling unheard by state lawmakers, some Pinellas County teachers launched a podcast to air their views on education issues, WUSF reports.

Student voices: A Broward County high school sophomore has become a political activist, protesting the state’s plans for education, WLRN reports.

School start times: As state lawmakers push for high schools to start classes later, the Flagler County school district is moving in the opposite direction, Flagler Live reports.

New College: The state’s overhaul of New College leadership has led donors to cancel $29 million in planned contributions, USA Today Florida Network reports.

Book bans: Author Jodi Picoult is criticizing Florida’s rules on school library book challenges and reviews after her young adult novel “The Storyteller” about the Holocaust is among 92 titles pulled from Martin County schools, The Hill reports. • Gov. Ron DeSantis has claimed stories about book censorship in schools are a hoax. Popular Information breaks down the governor’s accusations and finds them false. More from • A Flagler County district appeals committee recommended keeping the challenged novel “The Nowhere Girls” on high school shelves, Flagler Live reports. The decision has been appealed to the superintendent.

Other school news

The Brevard County School Board adopted six policies with unanimous support. Two aimed at improving communication with the public, Florida Today reports.

The state conducted an audit of Florida’s charter schools. It found a lack of oversight and potential business conflicts of interest, Center Square reports.

Seminole County teachers had been at impasse over contract terms for months. They finally have a deal with the district, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

A state lawmaker has proposed creation of boarding magnet school in Alachua County. Sen. Keith Perry envisions the program would follow the model of IMG Academy, but for academics instead of athletics, Main Street Daily News reports.

From the court docket ... Attorneys continue to battle over Florida’s ban of transgender athletes in high school and college women’s sports, the News Service of Florida reports.

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

Before you go ... Happy Pi Day!

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