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Federal judge dampens Florida effort to restrict race lessons

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
 
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB7, "individual freedom," also dubbed the "stop woke" bill in April 2022. A federal judge has stopped implementation of the law at the state's universities while they challenge its constitutionality.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB7, "individual freedom," also dubbed the "stop woke" bill in April 2022. A federal judge has stopped implementation of the law at the state's universities while they challenge its constitutionality. [ DANIEL A. VARELA | AP ]
Published March 17, 2023|Updated March 17, 2023

The big story: Florida’s effort to enforce new law governing the instruction of race-related materials hit another roadblock.

A federal judge said the state cannot make universities and colleges implement the requirements while the law remains challenged in court on appeal.

Representatives for Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has pushed for the law, weren’t worried. “The court did not rule on the merits of our appeal,” spokesperson Bryan Griffin said. “The appeal is ongoing, and we remain confident that the law is constitutional.” Read more here.

Meanwhile, private Palm Beach Atlantic University fired a long-time professor after receiving complaints that he taught about racial justice, the Palm Beach Post reports.

And students at the state’s historically Black university, Florida A&M, have worries that the new and proposed rules could upend their school.

It’s in this environment that the state is preparing to choose K-12 social studies textbooks, the NY Times reports. One publisher removed mention of race when discussing Rosa Parks to get its book approved, the report states.

Hot topics

District 1 Pasco County School Board member Al Hernandez attends a board meeting in January.
District 1 Pasco County School Board member Al Hernandez attends a board meeting in January. [ ANGELICA EDWARDS | Times ]

Board politics: A Pasco County School Board member ran into residency requirements when campaigning for the post. Now two Pasco County lawmakers want to change the requirements.

Teacher unions: Teachers from around Florida joined utility line workers, 9-1-1 operators and other public employees to decry legislation that they said would take away their rights to collectively bargain. Republican lawmakers pushed through the House and Senate measures, saying the bills would be good for the workers.

Vouchers: Bills to expand private school vouchers and establish universal education savings accounts moved forward along mostly party lines, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. The House measure is set for a final vote Friday, while the Senate version advanced from its final committee to the floor. The chambers still have to work out differences between them. • Some faith leaders are raising concerns about using public dollars to pay for religious education, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Personal pronouns: A bill advancing through the Legislature would prohibit use of pronouns not aligned with children’s sex at birth, regardless of what parents wish, WFSU reports.

Book challenges: A combination of new laws and political threats has led to confusion over which books can stay on Florida school shelves, Education Week reports.

Sex education: A bill moving through the Florida House would prohibit girls below sixth grade from talking to educators about their menstrual cycle, Huffington Post reports. The bill sponsor said that was an unintended effect and he would be open to amendments.

University leadership: The State University System Board of Governors called for a closer look at how university presidents and interim presidents are selected and the contract terms they’re offered, Florida Politics reports.

Other school news

A Palm Beach County high school is requiring students to scan their ID before using the restroom during class time. School officials said they want to improve bathroom monitoring following renovations, the Palm Beach Post reports.

The Miami-Dade County School Board adopted a resolution to commemorate National Day of Prayer in schools. At the same time it moved to display the state motto “In God We Trust” in its meeting room, the Miami Herald reports.

A Lee County high school suffered major damages from flooding. It happened because of an emergency power outage reset that caused water to flow from sinks, WINK reports.

From the police blotter ... A Palm Beach County high school student was arrested on accusations of bringing a loaded weapon to campus, WPTV reports. • Arrests were made at a Miami-Dade County high school after several fights broke out, WSVN reports

From the court docket ... An independent progressive think tank filed a public records lawsuit against the Florida Department of Education, alleging a pattern of failure to complete records requests on matters related to textbook selection, WUSF reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The full House convenes at 10:30 a.m., where it will consider final approval of HB 1 on vouchers, HB 477 on school board term limits and HB 225 on high school sports.

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

Before you go ... Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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