Higher education bill signed, just one publisher approved for K-5 math texts, tax issues, and more

Higher ed bill signed: The bill that would force colleges and universities to switch accreditors after their current cycles and require tenured professors to undergo a “comprehensive” review every five years was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis. He said the legislation would “end this accreditation monopoly,” put a check on the “radical political agenda” of some professors and prevent university systems from becoming “more about indoctrination than it is about getting a job someday.” Andrew Gothard, president of the United Faculty of Florida, said, “From where we stand, the only indoctrination occurring in Florida these days comes directly from Tallahassee.” News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Tampa Bay Times. Florida Phoenix. WFSU. WKMG. WPTV. Daily Commercial. Florida Politics.

One publisher for K-5 math books: The state’s decision to ban 54 math textbooks has left a single publisher approved for K-5 mathematics. The Florida Department of Education said Tuesday that 28 of the books incorporated prohibited topics including critical race theory, 12 didn’t meet the state’s new academic standards, and 14 books failed on both counts. But it won’t release details. Accelerate Learning of Houston, the only accepted publisher, said its Florida book was “built from the ground up to the Florida B.E.S.T. (the state’s new academic standards) by practicing educators using the flexible 5E lesson model,” according to its website, which also includes a diversity statement that reads, “Our nation’s black communities have long faced the repeated, harmful effects of systemic racism within the justice and education systems.” Billy Epting, assistant superintendent for academic services for Leon County schools, called it “unusual” to have just one publisher to choose from. Tallahassee Democrat. WPTV. Business Insider. Publishers say they are puzzled why their math textbooks were rejected, and are awaiting an explanation from the Florida Department of Education. Florida Phoenix. Several texts Brevard schools had already chosen have been rejected, leaving the district dangling. Florida Today.

Around the state: Broward voters will be asked Aug. 23 to approve a doubling of a special school tax for schools, a Jacksonville City Council committee narrowly agrees to recommend placing an extra tax for schools on the primary ballot, Hillsborough school board members agree to ask voters Aug. 23 to approve a new property tax to raise pay and expand instruction, Pasco’s school board also decides to ask voters to approve an extra tax that would pay for raises for teachers and other employees, Polk County’s Haines High School is fighting the teacher shortage by encouraging alumni to return to teach, students who bully classmates in Charlotte County schools next year will face new punishment, and two Polk County schools now have barbecue teams. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: Charges have been dropped against a man who was arrested when he refused to give his name to police during an argument with another parent at his child’s school in February. A county police officer also pulled a weapon on Lazaro Gonzalez and charged him with misdemeanor resisting without violence. But prosecutors said a video of the incident didn’t match the police report, dropped the charges and are now looking into whether the officer violated any laws. In the meantime, the officer remains on suspension. Miami Herald. WSVN.

Broward: School board members agreed Tuesday to ask voters to approve a property tax increase to raise revenue for teacher and staff bonuses, and safety, security and mental health services. It the tax is approved, voters will pay $100 per $1,000 in taxable property value, up from the current $50 per $1,000 of assessed value. Seventy-five percent of the revenue would go toward staff bonuses, 17 percent to safety and security, and 8 percent to mental health. If the tax isn’t approved, all the money currently going for those things will end. “The public needs to understand this is not just a wish list. It’s a necessity,” said school board member Patti Good. Sun Sentinel. WSVN. WPLG. WTVJ.

Hillsborough: In a 4-3 vote, school board members agreed Tuesday to place a referendum on the Aug. 23 ballot to raise property taxes by $1 for every $1,000 in taxable property value. If the issue is approved by voters, the tax is expected to raise $126 million a year. Superintendent Addison Davis pointed to the teaching shortage as a justification for the request. “We have thousands of students who do not have stability with qualified teachers,” he said. Tampa Bay Times. WTSP. WTVT. WFTS.

Duval: The Jacksonville City Council’s rules committee narrowly approved the school district’s request to place a 1-mill property tax increase on the Aug. 23 primary ballot. The request now goes before the full city council next Tuesday. If it gets to the ballot and is approved, the tax revenue generated over its four-year life will be used to increase teacher salaries, upgrade sports facilities and reinvest in arts programs, said Superintendent Diana Greene. Florida Times-Union. WJXT. Florida Politics.

Polk: Haines City High School is one of the few in the county relatively unaffected by the nationwide teacher shortage. Its secret, says principal Adam Lane, is that it encourages its students to return as teachers; 54 alumni now teach at the school. “We empower our students so they want to come back,” said Lane. “That’s what we try to do is build that leadership pipeline.” Bay News 9. The district now has two competitive high school barbecue teams. George Jenkins High School and Fort Meade Middle-Senior High School both have teams of students who have competed in contests against adults. George Jenkins team sponsors Matthew Townley, an Advanced Placement teacher at the school, and Lakeland Highlands Middle School history teacher Carl Griffith have created the Florida Barbecue Association for high schools and are trying to encourage other schools to start teams. Lakeland Ledger. The district’s 23 high school graduations begin April 30 and conclude May 25, school officials have announced. Lakeland Ledger.

Lee: Fort Myers High School is getting artificial turf for its football field at Edison Stadium, thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Miami Dolphins. Installation is expected to begin after the high school season next fall, and be completed by March 2023. WINK. WFTX. WBBH.

Pasco: School board members unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday to ask voters in November to boost the local tax rate by 1 mill per $1,000 of taxable property value. If approved, the tax would raise a projected $37 million a year for each of the four years it would be in effect. The goal is to raise salaries to be competitive with neighboring districts. “Our primary job is to have good schools. You can’t have good schools without good teachers and good support staff,” said board member Colleen Beaudoin. Tampa Bay Times.

Sarasota: The school district’s annual survey for parents and guardians is online until 4 p.m. Monday, May 2. Answers are meant to measure the perceptions, opinions and feelings about schools, workplaces, or departments. Survey responses are anonymous. WWSB.

St. Lucie: Teachers who agree to work during summer school will be paid $7.20 an hour on top of their usual wage, and receive a $312.50 bonus if they don’t miss a day during the five-week program that begins June 13 and ends July 14. The district expects about 6,000 students to attend, and needs about 360 teachers. WPTV.

Alachua: Irby Elementary, Alachua Elementary and Mebane Middle schools will be home next fall to STEAM programs, district officials have announced. Students will receive iPads or laptops, and hotspots if they need them. They new programs put an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, arts and math subjects. WGFL. School board vice chair Tina Certain has been chosen as president-elect for the Florida School Boards Association. In June, she’ll start one year of service as president-elect, then assume the presidency the following year. WGFL.

Charlotte: Students who harass or bully their classmates on the basis of sex or race will face stiffer punishment in the fall. The district’s new policy will include bringing in different agencies to help students see how their actions were wrong and harmful, and impress on the victims that they did nothing wrong. “We also have added a conference which includes the parent, the building principal and the student accused of the inappropriate and hurtful action,” said district spokesman Mike Riley. WBBH.

Walton: District officials’ decision to remove 58 books from school libraries drew some questions on social media and at this week’s school board meeting. Superintendent Russell Hughes defended the decision, saying, “It was necessary in this moment for me to make that decision and I did it for just a welfare of all involved, including our constituents, our teachers, and our students. I’ll continue to do those things and perhaps add some.” WJHG.

Wakulla: Dawn Svetozara Moody, a junior at Wakulla High School, has been named the district’s Sunshine State Scholar. Each year the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Education Foundation name top-performing juniors from each district who excel in science, technology, engineering or mathematics subjects. Wakulla News.

Opinions on schools: The nation is far larger and much more diverse in culture and in thought than it was when the traditional system of public education was created in the 19th century, its citizens more capable of circumventing traditional gatekeepers and customizing their experiences. Scott Kent, Naples Daily News. For school choice opponents across America who say choice can’t work in rural areas, say hi to Hope Rural School. Ron Matus, reimaginED. The epicenter of pandemic academic recovery is nationwide efforts to implement high-impact tutoring. Kevin Huffman and Janice Jackson, The 74. A former Palm Beach County superintendent writes that the right education technologies can become vehicles for helping teachers form deeper connections with their students. Robert Avossa, K-12 Dive. It’s so comforting to see that Florida is taking the lead in exposing how the teaching of mathematics promotes white guilt. Frank Cerabino, Palm Beach Post.