Should Florida schools teach children about communism?

The big story: A debate over whether Florida public school students should learn the history of communism has surfaced as the latest cause in the state Legislature.

Several lawmakers say American children should understand the pain and sorrow inflicted by the form of government used in nations including Cuba and China. And in its most recent committee stop, senators agreed the lessons should begin in kindergarten, though they added that the material should be “age appropriate.”

Speakers from the public largely have supported the measure, with several telling stories about the persecution they endured in their home countries. Many lawmakers agreed, saying the concepts of communism and socialism are being romanticized by youth who do not fully understand it.

At the same time, there’s been concern about the intent of the measure, given the recent efforts by some Republican politicians to equate communism with viewpoints they do not support.

The legislation advanced through a Senate committee on Tuesday, WMFE reports. Senators made changes to the bill as it moved ahead, Florida Politics reports. The concept heads to another House committee today, News Service of Florida reports. Read more from Florida Phoenix.

Today in Tallahassee ... The House Education and Employment Committee will take up the communism instruction bill and two others when it meets at 8 a.m. • The House Judiciary Committee will consider HB 1135 on lewd and lascivious grooming when it meets at 8 a.m. • The House State Affairs Committee will consider HB 1509 on school guardians when it meets at 8 a.m. • The full House has HB 931 on school chaplains on its special order agenda when it convenes at 2 p.m. • The full Senate has HB 1 on social media for minors and SB 996 on several education topics, on its special order agenda when it convenes at 2 p.m.

Hot topics

Aging schools: Hillsborough High School in Tampa is celebrating the restoration of its historic clock tower, which had fallen into disrepair. • Several schools across central Florida are showing their age, and they don’t have the money to make all the needed upgrades and repairs, WKMG reports.

Campus leadership: The Hillsborough County school district shifted principals as it prepares to close five schools.

Chaplains: Florida lawmakers’ proposal to allow schools to use volunteer chaplains to counsel students is part of a growing movement in Republican-led states, starting with Texas, Politico reports. The measure advanced in the state Senate on Tuesday, News Service of Florida reports. It appears on the House special order calendar today.

Charter schools: Sarasota County school district officials questioned the viability of a classical charter school proposal from Charter Schools USA, the Herald-Tribune reports. • Alachua County School Board members said they were caught off guard by the city of Newberry’s proposal to convert schools in the city to charter status, WCJB reports. More from the Gainesville Sun.

Dropout prevention: An Osceola County high school teacher who once was a dropout works to keep her students in school and on track to graduation, Spectrum 13 reports.

Measles: Florida’s surgeon general says parents should make the call whether their children should attend a Broward County school that has experienced six measles cases, the Miami Herald reports.

Permission slips: Duval County parents received letters from the school district saying permission slips will be required for all school-sponsored events including birthday parties and holiday celebrations, WJAX reports.

School choice: The Martin County school district expanded the number of schools that families may select from during open enrollment, WPBF reports.

School zones: About 1,700 Volusia County students could be reassigned to different schools in the fall as part of a school rezoning proposal, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Security: Half of Palm Beach County high schools now have metal detectors at access points, WPTV reports. • Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly criticized the county commission’s plan to defund its share of school resource officers, Flagler Live reports.

Social-emotional learning: The Alachua County education foundation received a $500,000 grant to support student social-emotional learning needs, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Superintendents: The Escambia County School Board approved a new contract for superintendent Keith Leonard, who was named to the permanent post in January, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Taxes: Sarasota County voters will decide in November whether to extend their local option property tax, which supports teacher recruitment, security measures and arts lessons, the Herald-Tribune reports. • Marion County voters will decide whether to increase the local sales tax by a half percent to support school construction projects, WUFT reports.

From the police blotter ... A Hillsborough County teacher was arrested on allegations of punching a student with autism.

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

Before you go ... This is for everyone who hoped to see Lake Street Dive at the Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa over the weekend, until they canceled.