Florida colleges, universities face ‘unparalleled’ attack, group says

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Students join a statewide student walkout to protest Gov. Ron DeSantis’ education policies at the University of South Florida in in February. A national faculty organization has criticized the DeSantis agenda as an attack on colleges and universities.
Students join a statewide student walkout to protest Gov. Ron DeSantis’ education policies at the University of South Florida in in February. A national faculty organization has criticized the DeSantis agenda as an attack on colleges and universities. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published May 24|Updated May 24

The big story: Earlier this year, the American Association of University Professors convened a committee to look at higher education in Florida.

Its focus centered on concerns that Florida’s system was under attack politically, racially and ideologically by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Republican lawmakers and their supporters.

The group released its preliminary findings early Wednesday, as DeSantis prepared to officially launch a bid for president. It condemned the governor and lawmakers, as well as university and college presidents for their complicity in creating what it called an unparalleled assault on academic freedom, tenure and shared governance.

The DeSantis administration refused to participate in the review, saying it did not expect fair consideration. Read more here.

Hot topics

Employee shortages: The Pinellas County school district increased bus driver pay as a way to lure more applicants to its doors. Other employee groups were quick to remind that the district has shortages in several other fields, too.

Superintendents: The Duval County School Board picked its deputy superintendent to lead the district while it conducts a search to replace retiring superintendent Diana Greene, the Florida Times-Union reports. • A crowd of Escambia County residents criticized the firing of superintendent Tim Smith, WEAR reports.

Student discipline: The Lee County School Board has authorized employees to check student cell phone content without a warrant if they have reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, WINK reports.

College football: The University of South Florida trustees’ finance committee gave initial approval to a $340 million stadium construction plan.

On instructional materials

Classroom movies: The Hernando County school district has concluded its review of a teacher who showed the Disney movie “Strange World” in her classroom, but the state investigation continues, CNN reports.

Textbooks: After Florida’s rejection of several social studies textbooks, publishers and other states are trying to determine what laws restricting lessons on race and sex mean for them, Education Week reports.

Book disposal: A viral video showed a Broward County school throwing away books and claimed it was part of a ban. That’s not what really happened, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Book challenges: Several Florida parents say the state’s laws regarding book challenges and removals ignore their rights to decide what is appropriate for their children, WUSF reports. • The majority of school book challenges in Florida and other states have focused on LGBTQ+ and sexual content, the Washington Post reports. • Poet Amanda Gorman said she was “gutted” to learn a Miami-Dade County K-8 school had banned the use of her poem “The Hill We Climb,” which she read at Joe Biden’s inauguration, the Miami Herald reports.

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Other school news

Eckerd College has a new president with longtime ties to the school. Under his leadership, Eckerd has been able to avoid political currents as it seeks a new direction for the future.

The move from high school to college isn’t always easy. Seminole State College is offering a summer program to help students make the transition, WKMG reports.

A Bay County charter school wants to expand. The Panama City Commission agreed to help the school get an $11 million loan toward the project, WMBB reports.

From the police blotter ... A former Volusia County high school teacher was arrested on additional accusations of unlawful sexual activity with a student, WESH reports. • A former Marion County teacher will not face charges after being accused of inappropriate behavior with students, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

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

Before you go ... The Electric Mayhem has its own show streaming on Disney Plus. Their comeback continues on Song Association. What song do you think of when you hear the word “rock”?

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