1. News
  2. /
  3. Gradebook

Few concerns raised over Florida’s proposed rule on required instruction

The Department of Education seeks to have school districts prove they are following the law.
The Florida Department of Education showed this slide during its presentation on its rule on required instruction, to illustrate how many of the mandated lessons already appear in the state's academic standards.
Published Aug. 15

The Florida Department of Education aims to hold school districts more accountable for how they deliver lessons required in state law.

If district officials have concerns about this step, they didn’t show it during a public workshop held Thursday via webinar. It drew only a handful of people, and lasted just 11 minutes.

Only one participant other than the presenters offered any comment.

Ann Whitney, the department’s director of standards, stressed during her introduction that the section of law up for discussion was first established in 1965, and that all but two of the specifically required lessons in it are accounted for in the state’s current academic standards. The mandates for teaching African-American and Holocaust history, for example, were set in 1994.

More recently, lawmakers amended the statute in 2016 relating to character education, in 2018 to include Medal of Honor Day, and in 2019 to cover lessons on mental health, substance abuse prevention and child trafficking prevention.

“The manner in which they do this is a local decision,” Whitney said. “The reporting of how you are teaching it, to the state, is new.”

The department took an interest in the delivery this spring after questions about how the Holocaust is being taught in schools rose to the surface. The impetus was a Palm Beach County principal who told a parent he could not prove the Holocaust occurred and said his school’s lessons were “not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs.”

After covering the particulars of the proposal, she asked for comment. She noted that the draft rule language had not been completed, and would be posted after taking public input into account.

The only person to ask questions was Florida Education Association researcher Cathy Boehm. She noted that other similar proposed rules where the wording is available, such as one governing implementation of the child trafficking prevention instruction, called for lengthy amounts of information.

That includes methods of instruction for each grade level, the teachers’ professional qualifications and a description of the materials to be used.

“It seems like a very expansive report, and very time consuming,” she said. “And we are concerned about staffing personnel, and just the resources involved.”

Boehm also asked if the report would be required annually, and if if had to be done by district, school or individual teacher.

Whitney did not respond, and said she was taking notes to discuss as the staff completes its recommended rule. She did not say when the rule would be available, and the department has not set a date to take it to the Board of Education for consideration.

RELATED: Getting tough: Florida’s education chief Richard Corcoran tells school districts to fall in line


  1. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The proposal is short on details, with officials saying they want to work through specifics during negotiations.
  2. Hillsborough schools superintendent MaryEllen Elia holds a back-to-school press conference at Rampello K-8 School, [TIMES files]
    MaryEllen Elia, who led the Hillsborough district from 2005 to 2015, has been an educator since 1970.
  3. Jeff Eakins and MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough's last two superintendents, were hired from inside the school system. So have all others since 1967. [TIMES FILES] Times staff
    Two more public meetings are planned, and the online survey is up until Saturday.
  4. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
    The board’s 2019-20 budget totals $1.39 billion.
  5. The DeLucio family of Trinity toured the Mitchell High School campus and showed the visit on their YouTube channel, which has more than 1 million subscribers. Many parents, students and school officials were not amused. YouTube
    The proposed policy comes up for a vote on Oct. 1.
  6. United School Employees of Pasco president Don Peace denounces the school district's pay raise proposal in a YouTube video sent to all district employees Sept. 9, 2019. United School Employees of Pasco
    The local teachers union already has denounced the idea.
  7. Goodwill's BookWorks preschool literacy program strives to instill a love of reading and helps provide children books.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. Greco Middle School in Temple Terrace has 183 more students this school year than last. Middle schools grew in enrollment this year, while elementary schools lost more than 1,200 students.  [Times | 2013]
    The 20 day count shows ever more crowding in southeast Hillsborough.
  9. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    Gov. Ron DeSantis also had set a priority of getting more youngsters ready for kindergarten.
  10. Wendell Krinn Technical High School in Pasco County opened in August 2018. The district wants to open an east-side technical high school in 2022. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    The past department head was removed over several performance concerns.