What’s in the history books that Florida rejected? Take a peek inside.

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Two social studies textbooks that have been rejected by the Florida Department of Education on Thursday, May 11, 2023, in Land O' Lakes.
Two social studies textbooks that have been rejected by the Florida Department of Education on Thursday, May 11, 2023, in Land O' Lakes. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published May 15

The big story: As expected, the Florida Department of Education rejected about one-third of social studies textbooks proposed for use in Florida public schools starting next year.

Officials warned publishers in advance not to include topics deemed off-limits, such as social-emotional learning and critical race theory, just as they did with math textbooks a year earlier. They provided a handful of examples this year of what types of content they turned down, but didn’t answer questions about the edits they required or the material they had added in.

A closer look at some of the textbooks that weren’t adopted did not reveal outright references to the banned subject matter. But some traces could be found.

Education commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said the state aimed to have materials that contain facts, not ideological rhetoric. Some social studies educators said the state’s effort created a chilling environment for those trying to stay true to history and follow state law. Take a closer look at some of the rejected books here.

Some teachers said they plan to fill the gaps in the textbooks by relying on more primary source materials, the Miami Herald reports.

“If we aren’t feeling discomfort when teaching history, then we aren’t teaching and learning history,” said Jessica Ellison, executive director of the National Council for History Education.

Hot topics

Board politics: A Hillsborough County school board member targeted for defeat by Gov. Ron DeSantis has drawn an opponent.

Book challenges: Some Flagler County schools have begun removing challenged books from circulation without a formal review, despite district policy, Flagler Live reports. • Two parent groups were removed from a lawsuit challenging the state’s laws on school library book selection, with the judge saying they lacked standing, WUSF reports. • Two Florida moms who created Florida Freedom to Read Project are leading a national push to keep books in schools, the LA Times reports.

College leadership: A close ally of Gov. Ron DeSantis is in line to be named president of South Florida State College, after trustees reduced the education requirement for the job. Three other candidates for the post withdrew amid concerns of political influence over the selection process.

Dress code: Brevard County school board members raised concerns about students wearing “furry attire” to classes, Fox News reports. Some called the items unacceptable, while at least one board member found the discussion inane. More from Florida Today.

Graduation requirements: State lawmakers eased the testing requirements placed on the Class of 2023 after requests from superintendents. The changes didn’t help everyone equally, the Palm Beach Post reports.

School start times: Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure that will require high schools to start daily classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m., and middle schools no earlier than 8 a.m., the News Service of Florida reports. Districts have until 2026 to implement the law.

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Security: Several Florida school districts plan to increase security measures in coming months to help prevent weapons from coming on campuses, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Some observers have raised questions whether the efforts will improve protection or are simply for show.

Student discipline: Hernando County school board members called on the administration to do a better job informing parents about school fights and other incidents, Hernando Sun reports.

Superintendents: Under fire from the DeSantis administration, Leon County superintendent Rocky Hanna got a show of support from his community, WFSU reports. Hanna said he has asked education commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. about how to resolve the Department of Education’s allegations against him, WTXL reports.

Teacher discipline: A Hernando County teacher faces a state investigation after a local school board member complained that the teacher showed the Disney film “Strange World” to students, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. • An Orange County teacher has resigned after coming under fire for allowing offensive student presentations, WFTV reports.

Transportation: Some Pinellas County parents and students are complaining that their school bus problems, including chronic lateness, have not been resolved all year, Bay News 9 reports.

Turnaround schools: The fate of Escambia County’s long struggling Warrington Middle School remains in flux as the school district and state Department of Education feud over next steps, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Before you go ... Thanks to those of you who asked (some with concern) what had become of me. All I can say is, waterfalls rejuvenate the spirit. Ready for more!

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