What books are being challenged in schools? Florida is making a list.

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
This year the Florida Legislature passed a bill that allows any person in a county to challenge a book and force a district to pull it out of circulation until it goes through a review.
This year the Florida Legislature passed a bill that allows any person in a county to challenge a book and force a district to pull it out of circulation until it goes through a review. [ DREAMSTIME | Dreamstime ]
Published May 25

The big story: National reports recently showed Florida among the leading states when it comes to removing, banning or censoring books in schools.

The State Board of Education, which has encouraged schools to look to others around Florida for guidance on which books to use, on Wednesday set the stage for continued scrutiny and potential action on the titles in classrooms and libraries.

The board adopted rules instructing districts how to prepare and disseminate lists of book objections they received, along with the decisions they reached and the reasons why. The standardized reporting mechanism “does continue to provide transparency for our families. It will also give us a way to post that material, which is required,” board chairperson Ben Gibson said. Read more from News Service of Florida.

Critics of book bans raised concerns that more could be coming as Florida expands its laws making it easier to challenge titles, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

In related news, the Santa Rosa County chapter of Moms for Liberty has called for schools to remove 65 books, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. The district had not received any requests for book reconsiderations previously.

Also, education commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. defended a Miami school’s decision to restrict access to Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb” after receiving a parent complaint, WLRN reports. “The process was put into effect and it worked where they deemed the proper placement of the books. And the students still have access to it at the right level,” Diaz said. “And no books were banned.”

Hot topics

DeSantis agenda: As long expected, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he’s running for president. • His aggressive education agenda has received plenty of attention. Education Week considers what it might mean nationally. • Florida Education Association leaders said DeSantis’ “authoritarian” tendencies would destroy U.S. public education, Yahoo News reports.

Cell towers: The Pasco County Commission rejected plans to place a cell tower on property it jointly owns at a K-8 school, after hearing complaints from the school’s parents. The school board narrowly gave its blessing to the tower in April, noting the commission would have final say.

Employee pay: Negotiators for the Pasco County school district and employee union reached an agreement on how much money workers will get paid from the district’s 2022 property tax referendum. Officials said the plan rewards veteran employees and also should help the district recruit new hires.

Teacher discipline: The Hillsborough County school district has launched an investigation into a high school teacher who is accused of demeaning and ridiculing students over several years.

Race relations: Leaders of Miami-Dade County’s Black community are demanding an apology from two Hispanic school board members who excluded a Black member from participating in a meeting about minority participation in district contracts, the Miami Herald reports. • The Indian River County School Board repealed its three-year-old racial equity policy, citing requirements in new state law, TC Palm reports.

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Superintendents: Duval County superintendent Diana Greene faces scrutiny as she departs her job three years before her contract expires, Jacksonville Today reports. • Ousted Escambia County superintendent Tim Smith said if the district soars after his removal, it was worth it, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Student growth: The Miami-Dade County school district is seeing enrollment growth for the first time in two decades, largely because of a massive influx of immigrant families, WLRN reports.

School sports: The State Board of Education adopted a resolution deploring the Biden Administration’s plan to allow transgender athletes to participate on teams aligned with their gender identity, the News Service of Florida reports. • Gov. DeSantis signed legislation giving charter school students the ability to play sports at willing private schools, Florida Politics reports.

From the police blotter ... A Brevard County instructional assistant was arrested on allegations of possessing child pornography, Florida Today reports.

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

Before you go ... Ever thought of playing games with your neighborhood crows? It can happen.

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