Florida schools roundup: Science teaching, homeschooling, tests and more

Teaching science: State Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, files a bill that would require school districts to teach “controversial theories and concepts” of science “in a factual, objective and balanced manner.” The bill would also allow local districts to adopt their own academic standards as long as they’re as vigorous as the state’s. In 2008, when the current standards were adopted, Baxley, then the executive director Christian Coalition of Florida, wanted the state to “leave the door open a little bit” for consideration of theories other than evolution about how life on Earth developed. Orlando Sentinel.

Homeschooling bill: A bill is filed that would limit the amount of information parents would have to provide to their school district if they intend to homeschool their child. The bill, filed by Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, would require only the student’s name, birth date and address. Some districts ask for more. redefinED.

Test waivers: Miami-Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho says he will ask the state to exempt students displaced by hurricanes from taking exams that are required for high school graduation. Education Week.

Tax bill and charter schools: Charter school operators warn that the tax bill under consideration in Congress would eliminate a variety of tax-exempt programs the companies use to borrow money to build schools. “This is devastating to charter schools, which often struggle to find space and lack the amenities of district schools,” says National Alliance President and CEO Nina Rees. Without the tax breaks, she says schools will have to take money from instruction to use for construction. The 74.

Child abuse report: An Okaloosa County School District administrator did not file a report on a child abuse investigation with the state within the required 30 days. The investigative report on a child abuse charge against Kenwood Elementary School teacher Marlynn Stillions was filed with district administrators June 17, 2016, but wasn’t reported to the state until sometime after Aug. 7. Administrators could face discipline or even criminal charges for the delay. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Unvaccinated students: The number of unvaccinated students jumps 16.1 percent in Duval County and 15.8 percent in St. Johns County over last year’s numbers, according to a review of school district records. WJAX.

Social media policy: The Lake County School Board approves a districtwide social media policy. Every school will now use Facebook and Twitter to provide information to students and parents. Daily Commercial.

School calendar: The Martin County School District will begin classes for the 2018-2019 school year on Aug. 13 and conclude May 30. The schedule has students out Thanksgiving week, but designates Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as potential makeup days. TCPalm.

Rally for transgender students: About 20 people rally for transgender student rights at the Sarasota County School District headquarters. Monday was the Trans Day of Remembrance, a day to honor transgender people killed for their gender identity in the last year. The district has struggled to come to an agreement on ways to protect transgender students’ rights. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Manson letter: A journalism teacher at Don Estridge High Tech Middle School in Boca Raton shows off the chilling letter he received in 1992 from Charles Manson. Dave Barker was a journalist for KCBS in Los Angeles at the time. The letter included references to actors William Holden, Clark Gable and Cary Grant drinking “rattel” snake wine from France, about “old wine jars of thunder & rolls of nickels,” the FBI, CIA and “oil money.” Manson, who was convicted in a series of gruesome murders in the Los Angeles area in 1969, died Sunday in prison at the age of 83. Palm Beach Post.

After-school program: A Bradenton church will offer a free after-school program for elementary school students next spring. Bayside Community Church is developing the Bradenton Dream Center to give K-5 students a space to do homework, meet with mentors or play sports. Bradenton Herald.

Mayor plays principal: Naples Mayor Bill Barnett plays principal for a day at Naples High School. Among the items tackled: disciplinary issues, sports schedules, fundraising events and teacher training ideas. “The work that goes into it is just incredible,” says Barnett. Naples Daily News.

Notable deaths: Bob Brust, a longtime music teacher and principal in the Citrus County School District, dies. Citrus County Chronicle.

School bus hit with pellet: An Orange County school bus was hit with a BB gun pellet Monday in Orlando. An assistant to the driver was slightly injured when the pellet shattered a window. None of the students aboard was hurt. Orlando Sentinel.

Opinions on schools: Florida politicians who point to “historic” school funding are deceptively trying to claim that the extra money isn’t coming from a tax increase. Ocala Star-Banner.

Student enrichment: The Braden River High School marching band wins the Class 3A state championship. Bradenton Herald. The Flagler County School District starts an outreach program to parents through the Connect Bus. The bus can travel around the county to improve parental involvement. Daytona Beach News-Journal.