New academic standards: Members of Florida’s Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to approve new academic standards for civics, government and Holocaust education. Schools will now teach students “a sense of civic pride” and how to “participate regularly in all levels of government.” Students will be required to “study primary source documents to understand the philosophical underpinnings of the American Republic and the root cause of American exceptionalism,” and also “compare the success of the United States and the success or failure of other nations’ governing philosophies to evaluate their past, present and likely future effects.” The board also approved updated standards for math and English language arts, and the addition of character education and instruction about substance use and abuse. The new standards are expected to be integrated into school courses by the 2023-2024 academic year. News Service of Florida. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. Florida Phoenix. A new chair and vice chair of the board were sworn in during Wednesday’s meeting. Attorney Tom Grady replaced Andy Tuck as board chair, and attorney Ben Gibson succeeded vice chair Marva Johnson. News Service of Florida.
Board reverses charter denial: Hillsborough County School Board members have been given 10 days to comply with an order from Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to reverse their decision to end contracts for four charter schools. The state Board of Education approved the order at Wednesday’s meeting. The requests for renewal were denied because, board members said, the schools had class sizes over the state limits, lackluster academic records, financial problems and inadequate services for students with special needs. Corcoran’s order said the board “ignored the law, its duty and the interests of at least 2,000 students.” The school board meets Tuesday to discuss the state board’s order. Tampa Bay Times. redefinED. Politico Florida. WFTS. WTSP. WTVT. The board also approved the turnaround plan for Escambia County’s Warrington Middle School, which needs a C grade from the state next year to avoid being closed or turned into a charter school. The plan includes hiring more staff, including a navigation coordinator to help students and parents connect with needed resources, reducing suspension days, and increasing teacher attendance. WEAR. Pensacola News Journal.
Around the state: Palm Beach County Superintendent Donald Fennoy said dealing with COVID over the past 16 months made him reconsider his priorities and “accelerated” his timeline to resign, a nonprofit foundation started by Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has voted to keep a controversial $1.57 million donation from a vendor and use the money to give each county teacher a $100 gift certificate, Osceola’s school board approves a revised contract with the agencies that supply school resource officers, the Marion County School District will use half of the $16.8 million in federal coronavirus aid it’s receiving over the next two years to expand summer school programs, and a $44 million federal grant will provide funding for 149 struggling schools in 29 districts. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:
Miami-Dade: A nonprofit foundation started by Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has voted to keep a controversial $1.57 million donation and use the money to give each county teacher a $100 gift certificate. District investigators had recommended that the donation from K12 Inc. be returned because of perceived impropriety when the gift was made just before the board approved a contract for the company to provide an online learning platform. Miami Herald. At Wednesday’s school board meeting, Carvalho again refuted rumors that the district was teaching critical race theory, and requiring students to wear masks and be vaccinated in the fall. “I’ve been asked about this a number of times,” Carvalho said. “I’ve said it in English, in Spanish, In Haitian, Creole. I’ve said it in Portuguese. So, I think I’ve said it clearly and it’s well-understood.” Miami Herald. District officials said they are making plans to accommodate a possible influx of students from Haiti and Cuba because of current political instability. WPLG. Among the 97 recovered victims of the condominium collapse in Surfside were a retired district administrator and counselor and her mother, also a retired teacher. Elena Chavez, an 88-year-old former teacher, had gone to the condo to visit her daughter, Elena Blasser, a 64-year-old who retired in 2006 after three years as an assistant principal at Vineland Elementary School in Kendall, when the condo collapsed June 23. Miami Herald.
Palm Beach: Superintendent Donald Fennoy said Wednesday that he hadn’t planned to step down after just three years on the job, but that “COVID … accelerated my five-year timeline.” Fennoy said the stress from dealing with the year-long pandemic crisis and the loss of both his in-laws to the virus prompted him to reconsider his priorities. The 45-year-old superintendent is the father of two children, and said he decided “it’s time for me to take a step back and walk my daughter to her first day of kindergarten.” The school board will continue discussions next week about the process to replace him. Palm Beach Post. WPTV. WPEC. Face masks will be optional when schools reopen Aug. 10 despite concerns from health professionals about the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, Fennoy said Wednesday. WPTV.
Osceola: A new contract between the school district and agencies that provide school resource officers has been approved. The board also approved a resolution recommending that those agencies adopt body cameras for SROs and expand their use of juvenile civil citations for first-time misdemeanors. The new agreement makes school administrators responsible for documenting when SROs are needed, and how those SROs handle incidents. SROs will be responsible for teaching “safety and security topics” such as drugs and sexual abuse “as requested by the principal and approved by the SRO supervisor.” The task force was formed after an SRO was recorded slamming a female student to the ground in January at Liberty High School. Orlando Sentinel. A former substitute teacher has pleaded guilty to molesting students at three county elementary schools in 2019. Asher Syed Yaseen was sentenced to eight years in prison. WKMG. WFTV.
Marion: The school district will receive $16.8 million in federal coronavirus aid over the next two years. Half is being used to expand summer school programs by hiring teachers and paraprofessionals, for technology, and for coronavirus safety protocols. More than 6,100 students are enrolled in summer programs, which is twice the normal attendance. Ocala Star-Banner.
St. Johns: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta has issued a revised opinion in the case of a transgender boy who challenged the district’s policy that barred him from using boys bathrooms at Nease High School. Last August, the court ruled 2-1 that student Drew Adams deserved the protection of both the 14th Amendment equal-protection clause and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars sex discrimination in federally funded schools. Wednesday, the court issued a revised opinion ruling for Adams solely on equal protection grounds. Education Week.
Leon: The principal at Chiles High School has hired an attorney to fight his two-week suspension without pay. Superintendent Rocky Hanna suspended Joe Burgess in June for allegedly misusing funds. Burgess’ attorney said the subsequent investigation showed that payments were properly made, and the district’s focus was then shifted to a new allegation. A district spokesman said that allegation centers on hourly pay for employees. The school board is turning over Burgess’ appeal to the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings. WTXL. Tallahassee Democrat. WCTV. School board members have approved a campaign to try to convince students over 12 and employees to be vaccinated before schools reopen next month. Tallahassee Democrat.
Citrus: School board members approved the $702,987 mental health assistance allocation plan, which is funded by the state. Together with leftover funds from last year, the district now has more than $916,000 to spend on mental health services for students. “We’re dealing with some serious matters with students, and we’ve got to be able to hire an employment staff to meet the needs,” said school board member Doug Dodd. Citrus County Chronicle.
More help for strugglers: A $44 million federal grant will provide money for 149 struggling schools in 29 districts, Gov. DeSantis announced Wednesday. Each of the schools, which are in the state’s lowest-performing 5 percent of schools, could receive up to $230,000 for an early literacy coach, a strategic initiatives coach, teacher training and instructional materials. WWSB. WTSP. WTXL.
Around the nation: An education savings account program was passed by the Missouri legislature this year that provides eligible students $6,350 for educational expenses to attend the public, charter, virtual, private or home-schools of their choice. redefinED.
Education podcasts: Oklahoma state Rep. Ryan Martinez talks about the growth of choice in his state, and the potential to create an education savings account program, with Step Up For Students president Doug Tuthill. redefinED.