VPK enrollment lags, resisting CRT rhetoric, book bans, technical issues, school bus delays, and more

Around the state: Enrollment continues to lag behind pre-pandemic levels in Palm Beach County’s voluntarily prekindergarten learning programs, a Pinellas history teacher fights back against complaints about his curriculum and wins, Brevard schools see the highest three-day total of students and employees infected with COVID-19, coronavirus cases are also high in St. Johns schools, technical errors have complicated the process to request school enrollment changes in Lee County schools, First Lady Casey DeSantis launches a new initiative to dissuade students from using drugs, Sarasota schools are being affected by the shortage of school bus drivers, and tensions are increasing between college administrators and trustees. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward, south Florida: Some parents and legislators who want specific rules on the ways race relations can be taught in schools have been pushing to have racially themed books, and even class yearbooks, banned from school libraries and classrooms. Here’s a look at some of the cases that have been in the news during the past year. Sun Sentinel. South Florida teachers talk about what it’s like being a teacher in the middle of a pandemic, and how the job has been affected. WLRN.

Palm Beach: Enrollment continues to lag behind pre-pandemic levels in the county’s voluntarily prekindergarten learning programs. The number of students in the programs is down 26 percent in the county, and 7.5 percent in early learning coalition programs. Education officials said the lost year of learning for preschoolers will be evident when those students start kindergarten in the fall. WPTV.

Pinellas: A Dunedin High School history teacher who fought a complaint about his curriculum, and won, is urging his colleagues not to give in when challenged about the way they teach about race in society. “The only thing we can really do is stand up to it and demand that American history be taught in its entirety,” said Brandt Robinson. In June, Robinson urged the school board to resist growing calls to ban the teaching of critical race theory, which contends racism is embedded in U.S. institutions. That prompted a challenge from a parent who accused him teaching Marxist lessons. He successfully defended the challenged text. “My sense of what a teacher should do when they’re faced with the perception that what they’re about to teach might have some blowback is to make it clear to students, ‘My job is not to teach you what to think. It’s to help you be a better thinker,’ ” Robinson said. Tampa Bay Times.

Lee: The deadline for parents to make enrollment changes for their children in grades 5-8 was Monday, but technical errors have plagued the process. In a statement, district officials said, “We are currently experiencing technical difficulties with our website and are trying to resolve the issue. We will let you know as soon as the site is available again. … We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.” WFTX.

Brevard: A record number of students and employees have been infected by the coronavirus, with 978 testing positive from Tuesday to Thursday last week. The previous high was 784 from Aug. 24-26. Despite the surge, the agenda for today’s school board meeting doesn’t include COVID-19 mitigation. Instead, board members will consider rezoning changes for more than a dozen schools over the next two school years because of “significant growth anticipated in the area south of U.S. Route 192 and west of Interstate-95.” Florida Today. WESH.

St. Johns: More than 500 county students and 120 school employees have tested positive for COVID-19, according to district officials. More than 120 students and 20 employees have also been quarantined. While those numbers aren’t the highest in the school district during the pandemic, teachers union president Michelle Dillon said everyone is exhausted. “We do still run into a substitute shortage,” she said. “Everybody’s pitching in. Teachers are covering other classes. It has not been the return to normal that any of us had hoped for.” WJXT.

Sarasota: County parents are being warned that there are likely to be school bus delays because of a shortage of drivers. District officials are encouraging parents to use the WhereTheBus app, which offers real-time route updates, to stay informed. WWSB.

Colleges and universities: Tensions are increasing between the people who run the state’s colleges and universities and the trustees who are appointed to oversee them. The rise in conflicts has some educators advocating for term limits for trustees and defined rules for replacing a trustee when his or her term ends. WFSU.

Drug program: First Lady Casey DeSantis has announced a new marketing campaign to warn children about the dangers of drug use, and new tools for schools to help persuade them from abstaining. “Back in the day when we were in school, it was ‘Just Say No,’ ” DeSantis said. “This is really the ‘Just say no, but here’s why.’ ” Florida Phoenix.

Catholic schools’ future: Scott Conway, the superintendent of the Diocese of St. Augustine, said enrollment has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, and he said one of the reasons is the expansion of state scholarships, especially one that helps military families. reimaginED.

Around the nation: A new CDC study suggests that children and teenagers who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection are at a higher risk of developing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. WKMG.

Opinions on schools: Jefferson County and its students are in dire straits and after the Somerset Academy charter school debacle, the least the state should do to support the school and its kids is to provide funding for the 2022-23 school year that is equal to the $15.5 million that Somerset received this year to run the school instead of slashing the budget to $8 million as Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has insisted. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.