Florida moves to limit school lessons on race

·3 min read

The nation’s culture war surfaced with a vengeance at Florida’s State Board of Education meeting in Jacksonville on Thursday. It came in the form of a debate over an administrative rule on the teaching of history as “fact” rather than “indoctrination.” Gov. Ron DeSantis made clear the discussion really was about “critical race theory,” which has become a catchall phrase for Republicans to criticize certain ideas on race — though the proposed rule didn’t explicitly say so. The board added it in. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

Some people viewed the proposal as an attempt to whitewash history. Others welcomed it as an effort to keep Marxism out of the classrooms. The conversation was political. And the board did what the governor wanted it to do. • Within hours of the board vote, DeSantis was touting the move in a fundraising appeal, Florida Politics reports. • U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio offered his views on the subject, too, Florida Politics reports. • Meanwhile, teachers across the state raised concerns about how the rule would impact their instruction, WFTS reports. Legal experts said the teachers would have limited ability to veer from the approved curriculum, Education Week reports.

That wasn’t the only item on the board’s agenda. It also approved an external operator to help two Hillsborough County schools improve student performance. • It okayed a rule allowing college athletes to benefit financially from the use of their name, image and likeness, Florida Phoenix reports. • And the board removed an item relating to the turnaround plan of Warrington Middle in Escambia County, giving the district more time to prepare, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Hot topics

Dress code: The Bay County School Board moved to make its dress code rule stricter, after easing it in response to Hurricane Michael. One principal told the board that students should be expected to cover their “chicken parts,” the Panama City News Herald reports.

Budgets: The Volusia County school district projects a $46 million shortfall for the coming budget year. Officials plan to use federal stimulus money to cover the gap, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Masks: Gov. DeSantis called for schools statewide to stop requiring masks by the fall, Florida Politics reports. He suggested the State Board or Legislature act to propel action in the few districts that haven’t yet taken that step. • The Citrus County school district is moving to make face coverings optional, leaving open the possibility of reimposing the rule if health conditions change, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Other school news

Who’s on board? Interested candidates have begun applying to take a vacant seat on the Manatee County School Board, the Bradenton Herald reports.

Time to grow. Madison County school district officials heard a proposal to expand the grade levels offered at the district’s most remote schools, to keep families from seeking other options, Greene Publishing reports.

Who’s on board, part 2? An Alachua County School Board member faces a lawsuit to remove her based on her residency, the Gainesville Sun reports.

R.I.P. Florida 2018 Teacher of the Year Tammy Jerkins died of lung cancer, the Daily Commercial reports. She was 62.

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

Before you go ... Missed the State Board meeting? Gov. DeSantis shared a video of his favorite moments on his Rumble account. You can get a sense of the thinking on one side of the equation. But don’t expect it to show the group that opposed his views chanting “No justice! No peace!”

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