School choice looms for Florida students, families

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Automotive instructor Frederick Lawrence explains the function of rocker arm springs while teaching students at Northeast High School’s Automotive Academy on Friday, Nov 3, 2023, in St. Petersburg.
Automotive instructor Frederick Lawrence explains the function of rocker arm springs while teaching students at Northeast High School’s Automotive Academy on Friday, Nov 3, 2023, in St. Petersburg. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Nov. 21|Updated Nov. 21

The big story: It’s that time of year when children and parents begin assessing their school choice options for next fall.

Districts across Florida have been holding expos, forums and open houses to introduce available programs to families, in advance of application periods that generally take place after everyone returns from winter break. They aim to meet the growing demand for education that meets family needs, competing with outside offerings that include vouchers, charter schools and homeschooling.

Ask students, and many will tell you that the selections they make give them a reason to go to school. At Pinellas County’s Northeast High, an automotive academy has begun attracting girls to a predominantly male field.

“I love the hands-on everything,” freshman Violet Grebe said. “I knew this would make me want to go to school more than just sitting and listening to teachers talk all day.” Read more here.

Hot topics

Unions: Teacher and support employee unions in central Florida school districts are scrambling to get 60% membership to avoid decertification, WMFE reports.

Student discipline: Leon County schools have an out-of-school suspension rate 80% higher than the state average, Tallahassee Reports reports.

Sociology classes: University of South Florida students are expressing their disapproval of a Board of Governors proposal to remove sociology from the general education core requirements, the USF Oracle reports.

Language lessons: The Volusia County school district is expanding its dual-language learning approach to a growing number of elementary schools, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Charter schools: Unlike many Florida school districts, the Pasco County district has created a positive working relationship with local charter schools, NextSteps reports.

Book bans: Several authors of books banned from Collier County schools are speaking out against the district’s action, WGCU reports.

Attendance zones: Close to 1,000 Volusia County students might be reassigned to different schools in the fall, as the district redraws attendance zones to cope with growth, WKMG reports.

Other school news

A Flagler County middle school suspended its agriculture program after students were bitten by rats. The program could be operational after Thanksgiving, Palm Coast Observer reports.

Broward County schools have seen enrollment decline by nearly 70,000 since the early 2000′s. New superintendent Peter Licata wants to hear why, as he considers what to do about it, WFOR reports. More from the Sun-Sentinel.

A Martin County high school principal is being reassigned for “incompetency.” The action stems from an investigation into an incident where students being investigated for vaping were taken to an area and told to drop their pants, WPTV reports.

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A state lawmaker accused the University of Florida of protecting a tenured professor who has made anti-Semitic statements. UF president Ben Sasse said the professor hasn’t worked at the school in years, Politico reports.

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

The Gradebook news roundup will be taking the rest of the week off for Thanksgiving preparations. Back soon!

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