Florida school board candidates make issue of library books

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
As school board races gain steam across Florida, candidates are talking about what types of books belong in classrooms and libraries. "And Tango Makes Three" has been among the titles challenged in some districts.
As school board races gain steam across Florida, candidates are talking about what types of books belong in classrooms and libraries. "And Tango Makes Three" has been among the titles challenged in some districts. [ NAM Y. HUH | AP ]
Published Sept. 26

The big story: They may be a year away, but school board races are heating up across Florida.

Culture war issues are driving interest in running, as well as early talking points.

The Hillsborough County board so far has drawn 10 challengers for four seats, which incumbents are defending. And one of their main points of conversation so far has been library books, with at least half of the hopefuls taking the lead of conservative groups such as Moms for Liberty and Citizens Defending Freedom. Read more here.

Book challenges have grabbed plenty of attention over the past year, as Florida outstripped all other states in removing materials from schools, according to PEN America. One of the locations with the most fiery debate has been Escambia County in the Panhandle.

It became too much for Escambia’s coordinator of library services, who quit the district in June and moved her family to Colorado to escape Florida’s restrictive laws on school books, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Hot topics

Attendance: An Alachua County mother was arrested over her child’s 69 unexcused school absences, the Independent Florida Alligator reports.

Bus driver shortage: The Orange County school district is offering signing bonuses to new bus drivers and mechanics, WMFE reports.

Gender issues: Collier County GLSEN activists say they won’t back away from providing resources to teachers about creating safe environments for LGBTQ+ students, despite harassment, the Naples Daily News reports.

History lessons: The Florida Department of Education will hold three public workshops as it develops standards for teaching about Asian American and Pacific Islander history, WJAX reports. • The Indian River County School Board is working to balance competing interests as it implements Florida’s new African American history standards, WPTV reports.

School safety: The Brevard County school district is considering new safety recommendations, a year after implementing a student discipline crackdown, WKMG reports.

Teacher pay: The Hernando County School Board approved taking $1 million from its construction fund to provide teacher raises, Suncoast News reports. Board member Mark Johnson said he supports better pay, but objected to the source of the money.

Union dues: A federal judge refused to block a Florida law that ended school district collection of membership dues for unions, News Service of Florida reports.

Vouchers: A central Florida private school barred from Florida’s voucher program amid allegations of ties to Communist China by Gov. Ron DeSantis has hired additional security for its campus, WFTV reports. More than 300 students lost their vouchers to attend the school, the Orlando Sentinel reports. • A Broward County private school also accused of ties to China says its programs are not influenced by any foreign government or political party, WPLG reports. • A Palm Beach County private school that faced closure because it had not been paid any voucher funding for students received some of the money over the weekend, WFTS reports. Others have not, WPTV reports.

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Other school news

It’s a first for the Tampa Bay area. Hillel Academy is opening the only Jewish high school in the region, Jewish Press reports.

Baby, it’s hot in here. Students at four Alachua County schools are struggling through physical education courses and athletic events without air conditioning, WUFT reports.

Leon County schools want to help young children develop before they arrive in classrooms. The district joined forces with a local healthy start coalition to launch a “Littles to Leaders” initiative, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

From the police blotter ... A Volusia County elementary school student was arrested on allegations of bringing a knife to school, WKMG reports. • A Lee County high school clinic assistant was arrested on accusations of having sexual contact with a minor student, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

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

Before you go ... Talking Heads is re-releasing its 1984 concert movie “Stop Making Sense,” and its members reunited for the first time in years to talk about it.

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