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Florida education news: Evolution vs. creation, four-day weeks, military family needs and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
The Florida Board of Education meets May 22, 2019, at Mort Elementary in Tampa. It is in the midst of a comprehensive review of academic standards. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Published Aug. 9

EVOLUTION LESSONS: Florida Board of Education chairman Andy Tuck faces increasing criticism of his past comments that he does not support teaching evolution as fact. Some people worry that he could influence changes in what schools teach in science classrooms, as the state goes through a comprehensive standards review.

FOUR-DAY WEEKS: Hernando County school district officials explore the idea as a way to save money.

MEET THE TEACHERS: Educators from Hillsborough County’s Tinker K-8 school, which sits on MacDill Air Force Base, hear about the specific situations that military families face.

MAKING MONEY: Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt sees strong revenue increases largely from sales in Florida and Texas, Education Week reports.

KEEPING TEACHERS: Orange County school district leaders look for ways to recruit and retain teachers as they struggle to improve their pay, Spectrum News 13 reports. • A group of south Florida teachers discuss their frustrations with the job on WLRN.

NO JOKE: North Florida law enforcement reminds students and parents that threats against schools are felonies, even if they’re not real, WFSU reports. • Bay County school and Sheriff’s Office officials look into how to handle a teen who posted a hateful, racist video on social media, the Panama City News Herald reports.

VIDEO LESSONS: A Broward County middle school teacher uses YouTube video reminders to get her students ready for classes, WSVN reports.

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES: Florida lawmakers are looking into ways to get more mental health professionals into schools, the News Service of Florida reports.

SECURITY: Indian River, Martin and St. Lucie county school districts add security improvements in advance of students’ return, TC Palm reports.

CLASSROOM TECHNOLOGY: Eight Duval County schools receive STEM grants to enhance their career and technical programs, the Florida Times-Union reports.

SUPERINTENDENTS: The Marion County School Board decides unanimously it will not hire elected superintendent Heidi Maier as its first appointed superintendent, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. Voters approved moving away from an elected school leader to begin in 2020. • Ousted Okaloosa County superintendent Mary Beth Jackson asks for reimbursement for legal fees she spent fighting her removal from office, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

SCHOOL BOARD SELECTION: A Jacksonville City Council member proposes a resolution opposing any move to end the direct election of Duval County School Board members, the Florida Times-Union reports.

HEALTH INSURANCE: Insurance costs will go up for Marion County schools, but not by as much as expected, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. • The Orange County School Board extends its current health insurance plan to teachers while continuing to negotiate new contract terms, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

GETTING THERE: Leon County parents find problems with the school district’s late-released bus route information, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

BAD ACTS: A Clay County teacher loses his teaching certificate over inappropriate crude comments to students, the Florida Times-Union reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Pasco County schools assistant superintendent for operations Betsy Kuhn oversees the district's campus security initiatives. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Schools identified these needs after a thorough review of their campuses.
  2. Hernando County School District
    The Hernando County School District’s overall premiums will go up about 10 percent. Unless it’s renegotiated later, the entire increase falls to employees.
  3. A Florida black bear (not this one) was found at a Marion County school and removed. CARLTON WARD JR  |  Carlton Ward Jr
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  4. Adjunct faculty at St. Petersburg College voted to unionize Tuesday, joining thousands of other adjuncts across Florida who are fighting for better working conditions and pay. [Times]
    The employees are the seventh group in Florida to join Service Employees International Union in recent yeas as it pushes for investment in the state’s higher education institutions.
  5. The University of South Florida ranked ahead of UCF, FIU and FAU in the U.S. News & World Report's Global University Rankings. [USF handout]
    The University of Florida finished 105th, while USF came in at 310. Harvard led the world.
  6. Workers begin construction in 2010 on what would become Winding Waters K-8. That was the last new public school built in Hernando County, which faces capacity strains as officials ask for impact fee increases to keep up with growth. HERNANDO TODAY PHOTO BY HAYLEY M  |  Hernando Today
    The district first would add classrooms at three existing schools, but could need four new schools by 2039.
  7. Rep. Bruce Antone, D-Orlando, says the Legislative Black Caucus will prioritize both public education and school choice during the 2020 Florida session. The caucus held a news conference on Oct. 22, 2019. The Florida Channel
    The caucus announced its 2020 goals for justice, housing and other key issues, as well, with members saying they will stick together to pursue them.
  8. Pre-season baseball practice at Wesley Chapel High School. Lawmakers want to ensure student-athletes remain safe in the Florida heat as they participate in high school sports. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    PreK-12 Innovation chairman Rep. Ralph Massullo expects legislation requiring some ‘simple things.’
  9. First-year Cox Elementary School teacher Kevin Knibbs, 33, of Dade City, answers questions about the components of time: hours, minutes, seconds, to his third-grade class on Monday, September 30, 2019, at the school in Date City. From left are students Angel Young, 8, Arlene Luna, 8, and Jahkia Gray, 8. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. First-year Cox Elementary School teacher Kevin Knibbs, 33, of Dade City, walks with students Angel Young, 8, left, and Kaivion Williams, 9, right, while en route to his third-grade class on Sept. 30 at the school in Date City. Knibbs decided to become an educator after working as a school custodian. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Kevin Knibbs never thought about working with students — until he started interacting with them.