Can Florida teachers use outside books and movies? Ask the principal.

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
One teacher had a request to show "A Charlie Brown Christmas" to her kindergarten class.  (AP Photo/United Feature Syndicate)
One teacher had a request to show "A Charlie Brown Christmas" to her kindergarten class. (AP Photo/United Feature Syndicate)
Published Dec. 11, 2023

The big story: During the days surrounding holidays, as throughout the year, teachers often turn to outside materials to supplement their course lessons.

Their choices have become more scrutinized over the past year, as groups of parents and residents throughout Florida have raised questions about the appropriateness of what children see and read.

State lawmakers gave school principals the role of deciding what’s permissible. And the school leaders increasingly are denying the use of anything off a pre-approved list.

“I cannot be more serious about this and what it can mean for you,” one Brevard County elementary school principal wrote to staff, stressing the importance of asking for permission first. Read more from Florida Today.

Hot topics

Social media: The Broward County school district launched an awareness campaign to help students avoid “sextortion,” WTVJ reports. • A private school in Broward County fired an instructor over her social media posts about the Israel-Hamas war, and then expelled her child, WPLG reports.

Private schooling: A Lee County tutoring and academic advisory program for student-athletes aims to make itself more affordable by converting to a private school, WINK reports.

Holiday spirit: The Seminole County school district is seeking more toys to give to students during the holidays, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Construction funding: The Palm Beach County school district is considering a sales tax referendum to raise additional funds for construction projects, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Cell phones: Orange County teachers say their district’s cell phone ban is making positive changes among students, who still miss their phones at lunch, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Bus rides: The Palm Beach County school district is making it easier for parents to track the whereabouts of their children’s school bus, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Attendance: A Florida House subcommittee heard a report that about one-third of Florida students miss 10% or more of classes, Florida Politics. Legislation to address the concern is likely in the upcoming 2024 session. • Leon County school officials are seeking solutions to rising absenteeism, especially in elementary schools, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

From the police blotter ... A Lake County middle school teacher was arrested in a child pornography sting, WOFL reports.

In higher ed

Gender gaps: Women make up the majority of students at most Florida universities, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Housing: Florida university students are struggling to find affordable housing near their campuses, particularly in larger cities, WLRN reports.

College football: Rumors are circulating that Florida State University officials have plans to switch conferences after the school’s football playoff snub, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Campus life: The University of South Florida marked its fifth year offering a “living and learning community” for LGBTQ students, WUSF reports.

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

Before you go ... Happy Hanukkah everyone!

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Spotlight on education

The public is invited to a community conversation about the future of Florida public schools on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at the Tampa Theatre, hosted by the Tampa Bay Times. In the second installment of the Spotlight Tampa Bay series, Times journalists will moderate a discussion by experts, followed by a panel featuring students. Tickets are $20; $10 for students. Proceeds benefit the Times’ Journalism Fund. To purchase tickets, click here.