More math textbooks now considered acceptable by state, BOE voting today on Diaz, and more

More math books approved: Nine math textbooks previously rejected by the state Department of Education have now been added back to the accepted list this week after “aligning their instructional materials to state standards and removing woke content,” the DOE announced Thursday in a press release posted on its website. DOE officials did not specify how the books were changed to gain the state’s approval. Spokeswoman Cassie Palelis did write in an e-mail: “We have high standards and reject books with unacceptable content because we know that publishers can easily adjust their materials to meet our guidelines, as displayed by the fact that it took less than two weeks for additional publishers to amend entire books, resubmit them and get put on the adoption list.” Orlando Sentinel. WFLA. Associated Press. Newsweek.

Board voting on Diaz: State Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, who was nominated by Gov. Ron DeSantis to be education commissioner and is expected to be confirmed today by the Florida Board of Education, is a former public school teacher,  administrator, current charter school company vice president and a state legislator for the past decade who is an advocate for charter schools and other education choice options, greater parental control in schools, and against what Republicans call the indoctrination of children in the classroom. He’s also a staunch supporter of the governor, and expects DeSantis to continue to be closely involved at the Florida Department of Education. “He is the top executive of this state, he has had an agenda for education, and I am aligned with that agenda,” said Diaz, 49. “I am listening, and I will share my thoughts with him as well.” Miami Herald.

Around the state: The number of teacher vacancies is projected to hit 9,000 next fall and those vacancies could be difficult to fill if one Pinellas teacher’s experience is any indication, the state’s former surgeon general goes public to disagree with the state’s positions on vaccinating students and providing assistance for transgender children, a Duval elementary school cafeteria has been closed because of an infestation of rats, and Orange County School Board members are being sued over the way the district handled a sexual assault reported by the parents of a kindergartner. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Hillsborough: The school district is one of just six in the state to be recognized as Best Communities for Music Education in the United States by the NAMM Foundation. Others are the Broward, Escambia, Orange, Pinellas and Palm Beach school districts. The Gateway Environmental K-8 Learning Center of Homestead, in Miami-Dade County, was the only state school honored individually. Bay News 9.

Orange: The school board is being sued for allegedly delaying reporting a sexual assault on one kindergarten student by another in 2019 at Dream Lake Elementary School in Apopka. The parent who filed the suit alleges that her daughter was attacked in a bathroom by another student during “unsupervised time” in a physical education class. The P.E. teacher then allegedly “refused to listen” when the girl reported the incident, and school officials waited a month before reporting it to law enforcement, the suit contends. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. WESH.

Palm Beach: The teacher who was found guilty of trespassing at Westward Elementary School because he refused to wear a face mask or leave the school as requested on Oct. 27, 2021, said he has no regrets about his actions and plans to return to his 4th-grade classroom May 2. “The key is to go back, do the job and take care of the kids,” said Christopher Persaud. “What’s done is done.” He is also one of at least four candidates for the District 7 seat on the school board, which is held by Debra Robinson. Palm Beach Post.

Duval: Three district elementary schools have been affected by a recent infestations of rats, according to messages from the district to parents of students at Cedar Hills, Neptune Beach and Love Grove elementary schools. Wednesday, Cedar Hills’ cafeteria was closed for treatment. WTLV. WJAX. WJXT.

Pinellas: The number of projected teacher vacancies in the state is projected to climb to about 9,000 for the 2022-2023 school year. If the story of Patrick Mugan, a history and civics teacher at Pinellas Park Middle School, is any indication, filling those vacancies will not be easy. Tampa Bay Times. District officials have revised a site plan for a proposed middle school and YMCA branch in northeast St. Petersburg. The original plan was rejected last month by the city’s Development Review Commission over traffic concerns in the surrounding neighborhood. City council members will review the new plans May 12. Spectrum News 9.

Colleges and universities: A search committee has chosen four finalists for the job as regional chancellor for the St. Petersburg campus of the University of South Florida. Town halls with the finalists will be held Monday and Tuesday. USF president Rhea Law will then interview the candidates and make her choice. Tampa Bay Times. Robert McLendon, president of St. Johns River State College from 1972 until he retired in 2008, has died at the age of 84. He was widely credited with expanding the college from its original, rural location to three counties. “He had a vision for the college that developed over four decades,” said Joseph Pickens, who succeeded McLendon. “He shaped it in the way he thought it needed to be shaped.” St. Augustine Record.

Tax collections up again: General tax revenues collected by the state in March were 21.5 percent higher than projections, according to a report by the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research. Economists attributed a portion of the gain to inflation. Education spending is largely dependent on tax revenues. News Service of FloridaFlorida Politics.

Rivkees takes on Florida: Former Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees is speaking out against the guidance the Florida Department of Health has been issuing under his successor, Joseph Ladapo. Rivkees is publicly supporting vaccinating children against COVID-19 and said Florida’s recommendation of giving transgender children under the age of 18 receive no treatment other than counseling “misrepresents the weight of the evidence, does not allow for personalized patient and family-centered care, and would, if followed, lead to higher rates of youth depression and suicidality.” A spokesperson for Gov. DeSantis said the state’s guidance is sound. Tampa Bay Times.

Education podcasts: Michael Bonick, an elementary teacher and guitar player for the Florida Virtual School, talks with Step Up For Students senior writer Lisa Buie about engaging students by incorporating music in core academic subjects. reimaginED.

Around the nation: The U.S. Department of Education’s proposed Title IX regulation governing how colleges and K-12 schools should investigate and punish sexual violence allegations will now be released in May instead of this month, said a department spokesperson. The new rule would reportedly protect gay and transgender students from sex-based discrimination. Fifteen Republican state attorneys general are threatening to sue if the regulatory process for issuing the rule isn’t halted. K-12 Dive.

Opinions on schools: Nothing about the state’s math textbook decisions makes sense. Unless Gov. DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran reveal much more and soon, the public’s suspicions will be justified — and that’s no coincidence. Sun Sentinel.