Florida’s debate over school race lessons, CRT, to resume in Senate

Linda D. Garrow

The big story: On Monday, state Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. recognized Martin Luther King Jr. Day by reposting on social media a quote from the assassinated civil rights leader. It was the one that many people tend to use when they want to emphasize equality over equity, as they suggest that we live in (or at least should live in) a race-blind society.

Today at 11 a.m., Diaz introduces his bill (SB 148) on “individual freedom,” which would bar teachers from attempting to “indoctrinate or persuade” students about race matters, to the Senate Education Committee. You can watch Diaz talk about his bill on this Newsmax video. Conservative Floridians have made much ado about how race gets taught in schools, as they insist without offering examples that educators are presenting materials intended to make children hate themselves and hate America.

Longtime Pinellas County history teacher Brandt Robinson has been accused of such behavior. He fought the allegations and won his case. He’s urging other teachers and school districts not to fall victim to the rhetoric, and to keep teaching U.S. history truthfully.

Schools across Florida have felt the heat, facing criticism for the books they have on their shelves. One Broward County high school temporarily halted release of its yearbook amid complaints how it presented student participation in Black Lives Matter activities. The decision to ban certain books didn’t stop there, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

It’s not just Florida. Schools in New Hampshire are having the same types of conversations, the Concord Monitor reports.

Tallahassee action

Florida Department of Education officials are seeking more ways to maintain oversight of Jefferson County schools. After exploring several possible takeover ideas, department leaders told the district it could regain autonomy — as long as it improves its academic performance. More from the Tallahassee Democrat.

Florida officials intend to conduct student testing this spring as usual. Citing the ongoing impact of the pandemic, Miami-Dade County district leaders called for another year without consequences for the exam results, the Miami Herald reports.

Job postings

Superintendent searches continue in Florida’s biggest districts. Two favorites are emerging for the top job in Miami-Dade County schools, Florida Politics reports. Several organizations remain dissatisfied with the quick process, which gave applicants a week to get their papers in, WPLG reports. • Eight of 15 qualified candidates for Broward County’s chief executive job were advanced to the School Board by its search firm, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

When there aren’t enough bus drivers to go around … The Osceola County school district is looking into using Uber or paying parents to transport children to and from campus, WESH reports. • Sarasota County families were warned that school buses will be running late for the next week or longer, WWSB reports.

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Money matters

Several school districts rely on local sales taxes to support construction projects. The Duval County district has launched several projects one year after voters approved its tax, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Florida lawmakers set a target minimum teacher salary of $47,500. It’s been a tough goal for some to meet. The Seminole County school district said it has negotiated a plan to make it happen, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Higher education

The terms of several state university trustees have expired. They’re not leaving, and that’s causing some problems, WFSU reports.

The case of three UF professors challenging the university’s policies continued in federal court. The judge was not amused by some of the university lawyer’s antics, the News Service of Florida reports.

Coronavirus concerns

Coronavirus protocols keep changing. The numbers of cases in Tampa Bay area schools continued to rise. • Duval County elementary schools plan to begin advising parents when their child’s class has a positive case, after the health department announced it would stop contact tracing, the Florida Times-Union reports. • The Brevard County School Board has no plans to alter its approach despite rising case numbers and absences, Florida Today reports. • Four south Florida teachers talked with WLRN about how life in the classroom has changed during the pandemic.

Prekindergarten participation dropped across Florida as the pandemic emerged. Enrollment has not yet fully rebounded, WPTV reports.

Other school news

Some Palm Beach County parents loudly opposed plans to redraw their area elementary school attendance zones. They convinced school district officials to look for other options, the Palm Beach Post reports.

‘If you see something, say something.’ A volunteer Broward County high school basketball coach was arrested on allegations of having a weapon on campus, WPLG reports.

The Leon County school district has prepared a glossary relating to the LGBTQ community. It includes 41 terms to be taught to students, Tallahassee Reports reports.

R.I.P. David L. “Doc” Anderson, once Florida’s longest tenured school board member, was remembered in Martin County upon his death, TC Palm reports.

Before you go … This Pinellas County student-athlete has learned how to prioritize and persevere.

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