Transgender ban signed: Tuesday, on the first day of LGBTQ Pride Month, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the education bill that includes a provision barring transgender females from competing in high school and college women’s sports. DeSantis said the ban protects the integrity of women’s and girls’ sports, and denied that the timing of the signing was intended to send any sort of message. “In Florida, girls are going to play girls’ sports, and boys are going to play boys’ sports,” he said. Critics called the ban discriminatory and unnecessary, and Democrats contend the law “could cost Floridians millions of dollars in both economic damage and lawsuits.” In April, the NCAA issued a statement saying it would only hold events in states “where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination.” DeSantis said the provision in the law will stand even if the NCAA withdraws events from the state. Other significant elements of the bill allow public colleges and universities to authorize and operate charter schools, and give parents the authority to decide whether their children should repeat a grade in the 2021-2022 academic year because of learning losses caused by the pandemic. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. Sun Sentinel. Florida Times-Union. USA Today Network. Politico Florida. Florida Phoenix. Capitol News Service. Florida Politics. News Service of Florida. CNN.
Academic standards: Changing the civics curriculum has drawn the most attention as the state prepares to adopt new academics standards, but there are other areas of education that would be affected if the proposal is approved, such as the teaching of the Holocaust in public schools, and addressing “character education,” and substance use and abuse. Alternate standards are also proposed in math and English language arts for students with “the most significant cognitive disabilities.” The Florida Department of Education has begun a series of community meetings around the state to hear from residents. The first was last night in Miami, and the next one is Thursday in Osceola County. News Service of Florida. Florida Phoenix. Tampa Bay Times.
DeSantis gets state budget: The $101.5 billion state budget approved by the Legislature has been sent to the desk of Gov. DeSantis. This year’s budget is $92.2 billion, but the budget for the next fiscal year that begins July 1 was bolstered by a one-time infusion of $10 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds. Included in the budget is $550 million to improve teacher salaries and try to raise starting pay to $47,500, and $1,000 bonuses for most teachers and principals. DeSantis has said he will sign the budget, and has until June 16 to do so. Florida Politics.
Around the state: Duval County School Board members voted to rename six schools with Confederate ties, the St. Johns County School District appoints a dress code committee to review the district’s policies and recommend changes, face masks will be optional in schools in Nassau County starting Saturday and in Osceola County beginning July 1, and Broward school board member Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter was killed in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, has announced she’ll run for a second term. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:
Broward: School board member Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was among 17 people killed in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has announced she will seek a second term. The District 4 representative was one of the leaders in pushing Superintendent Robert Runcie out his job, arguing that the district under his leadership didn’t do enough to keep students safe before and during the attack. Florida Politics.
Hillsborough: Last year, a popular Plant City High School TV production teacher with performing ambitions started a TikTok account just before the pandemic set in. Within a couple of months Casey Hamilton had caught the attention of Lizzo and by June he had a million followers. He decided to quit his teaching job with the encouragement of his students, and work fulltime doing TikTok videos, voice work and other entertainment. He said so far he’s made about 30 percent more than he did teaching. “I’m still an amateur, and I recognize that,” Hamilton said. “But I feel like I’ve got this color wheel of talents and I want to use them.” Tampa Bay Times.
Duval: School board members have agreed with Superintendent Diana Greene’s recommendation to rename six schools with Confederate ties, and keep the names of three other schools. “As a board and a community, we’ve done really hard things. But we can get this done,” board chair Elizabeth Andersen said. “We know who we want to be as a school district.” The name changes will turn Joseph Finegan Elementary into Anchor Academy; Stonewall Jackson Elementary into Hidden Oaks Elementary; Jefferson Davis Middle into Charger Academy; Kirby-Smith Middle into Springfield Middle; J.E.B. Stuart Middle into Westside Middle; and Robert E. Lee High into Riverside High. Three schools named after Andrew Jackson and Jean Ribault will retain their names. The cost for the changes will be around $1 million, and the new names are effective Aug. 3. Florida Times-Union. WJXT. WJAX. WTLV.
Lee: Four students were injured when a car slammed into a school bus Tuesday in Lehigh Acres. Two students on the bus were taken to a hospital for treatment of what highway patrol troopers called minor injuries. The 17-year-old driver of the SUV also had minor injuries, but his 15-year-old passenger was seriously injured. Troopers are investigating. WBBH.
Osceola: School board members voted Tuesday to make face masks optional in district buildings starting July 1. Masks still will be required on school buses. If the CDC further relaxes its mask guidance before July 1, school board members said they would reconsider their policy. WKMG.
Collier: A 14-year-old Gulf Coast High School student has been arrested and accused of making an online threat to commit a mass shooting at the school. The message specifically targeted one teacher. WINK. WFTX.
Lake: A ceremony was held Tuesday to mark the closing of Clermont Middle School after 66 years, when it opened as Clermont High School with 10 classrooms. The school will be demolished later this year and replaced with a new K-8 school, the Aurelia M. Cole Academy, in 2023. WKMG.
St. Johns: School district officials have put together a dress code committee to review the policies and make recommendations for changes. Two of the members are freshmen girls from Bartram Trail High School whose yearbook images, as well as those of 81 other Bartram girls, were digitally altered to cover chests and shoulders. The next school board meeting is June 8, and members are expected to vote on the committee’s recommended changes. WTLV.
Sarasota: A 17-year-old Sarasota High School student who moved from Chicago to escape the violence found a home with his English teacher, Michael Keelen, and Keelen’s son. But the shortage in affordable housing could soon force all three out of the county. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Marion: The number of coronavirus cases reported in district schools fell to its lowest weekly level since the pandemic began. Only three students and staff employees tested positive during the week of May 21-27. Forty-two students and 10 employees were sent into quarantine, which is also one of the lowest totals in the past 15 months. Ocala Star-Banner.
Nassau: Face masks will be made optional for all school activities, including summer school, starting Saturday. Masks will also be optional for the 2021-2022 school year. WJXT. WJAX.
Colleges and universities: Florida State University is asking a judge to dismiss a potential class-action lawsuit filed by a student who wants a refund because he and others were forced to take classes online instead of in person during the pandemic. FSU said no written contract existed between the student and the school, and that it’s protected by sovereign immunity. News Service of Florida. Samya Zia, a 19-year-old economics student at Florida International University, won $9,000 in the National Investor Pitch Challenge a virtual startup competition with her app that teaches children how to manage their money. WLRN.
Opinions on schools: Perhaps it was just a big, unfortunate coincidence. But it feels more like an insult that Gov. DeSantis chose June 1, the first day of LGBTQ Pride Month, to sign Florida’s biggest anti-LGBTQ bill in recent history banning transgender women and girls from playing sports. Miami Herald. As a longtime supporter of education choice, I find it interesting seeing the mainstream media overwhelmingly oppose publicly funded vouchers being redeemed at nongovernment education entities, but quite comfortable when it comes to vouchers going to nongovernment journalism entities. Scott Kent, redefinED. The best Individual Education Plan is one in which you get to decide who provides services to your special-needs child. The worst sort of plans depend entirely upon what a bureaucratic system decides to give you. Matthew Ladner, redefinED. The growing realization that many schools, pre-Covid, were not doing a good job of educating students, is leading to growing support for more genuine school choice. More than 30 states are creating or expanding educational choice programs. Steve Forbes, Forbes. While Republicans in Washington are screaming about a Biden administration proposal for free and universal preschool, Republicans and Democrats in Florida are uniting to improve pre-K. Why? Because it makes sense. Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel.