Bright Futures’ volunteer requirements changed, judge won’t block Stop WOKE Act, and more

Bright Futures law signed: Students applying for Bright Futures scholarships can now use paid work time to help meet the program’s 100-hour volunteer eligibility requirement under a bill signed into law Monday by Gov. Ron DeSantis. “Florida students should not lose the opportunity to receive a Bright Futures Scholarship because they have to work to help their families make ends meet,” said DeSantis. “After-school jobs teach our students valuable life lessons, much like community service hours do.” The Bright Futures program pays 75 percent or 100 percent of eligible students’ tuition costs. This past school year, about 120,000 students used the program. Associated Press. USA Today Network. Florida Phoenix. WFLA. WTSP. WTVT.. Spectrum News 9. Florida Politics.

Stop WOKE Act a go: A federal judge denied a request Monday for a temporary injunction against a law that restricts the way race-related concepts can be taught in K-12 classrooms and used in workplace training. The lawsuit was filed by teachers, a student and a diversity consultant who claimed it violated First Amendment rights. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker wrote that he was not “determining whether the challenged regulations are constitutional, morally correct or good policy,” but that four of the five plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the case because they had not shown injury-related proof. The rule is scheduled to go into effect Friday. Walker did not rule on a injunction request by a University of Central Florida professor, and ordered both attorneys to file briefs today on whether the proposed rule could affect the professor’s legal standing. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida.

New laws in effect this week: Nearly 150 bills passed by the Legislature and signed or expected to be signed by Gov. DeSantis will go into effect Friday. Among them are the Stop WOKE Act that bans the teaching of critical race theory in schools or the use of it in workplace training, the replacement of the Florida Standards Assessments testing with a progress monitoring system, a requirement that Florida students take a financial literacy course, the imposition of 12-year term limits on school board members, forbidding instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity to K-3 students, and more. News Service of Florida.

Around the state: A tentative contract agreement is reached between Orange County teachers and the school district that provides the largest raises in about a decade, restrictions have been issued by Orange County administrators on what teachers can’t do in the classroom as the district tries to comply with the new Parental Rights in Education law, Alachua County middle and high school students will have to wear clear backpacks when schools reopen in August, the beach volleyball coach at Florida Atlantic University has died after battling breast cancer for almost 10 years, and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a high school football coach has the constitutional right to pray on the 50-yard line after games. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Orange: After a six-month dispute, the school district and the union representing teachers have reached a tentative agreement that will give most teachers a boost of $3,325 and increase the starting teacher salary from $47,500 to $48,400. It’s the largest increase for teachers in more than a decade. Those who are evaluated as highly effective will get a $900 cost-of-living bonuses and raises of $2,425. About 93 percent of the district’s teachers hold that rating. Effective teachers will get the $900 COLA and raises of $1,800. “It’s a really good deal,” said Wendy Doromal, union president. “We asked for every single dollar, and they gave it to us.” It still has to be ratified by teachers and approved by the school board. Orlando Sentinel. Principals have been told by district administrators that the Parental Rights in Education bill is prompting classroom changes, according to teachers union officials. Teachers won’t be permitted to wear rainbow articles of clothing or lanyards, elementary teachers are being discouraged from putting photos of their same-sex spouse on their desks or talking to students about them, “safe space” stickers aimed at LGBTQ students may have to be removed from doors, teachers will have to tell parents if a student “come out” to them, and teachers must use pronouns assigned at birth for students even if the parents allow different pronouns. WFTV.

Central Florida: While most school board candidates in Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake counties are campaigning on such traditional school issues as teacher pay, career education and school safety, several have embraced Gov. DeSantis’ emphasis on hot-button issues such as critical race theory and the removal of books from school libraries that they consider pornographic, and have sought his endorsement. “This is a first in my recollection,” said Susan MacManus, a retired University of South Florida political science professor who has followed Florida politics for about 40 years. “It’s certainly going to make the Aug. 23 primary election a lot more interesting and a lot higher stakes for both parties.” Orlando Sentinel.

Brevard: Sharanya Natarajan, a student at Edgewood Junior/Senior High School in Merritt Island, is one of just 31 state merit winners in the national 2022 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Students in grades 5-8 were asked to identify an everyday problem in their classroom, community or the world and submit a short video describing their solution and the science behind it. K-12 Dive.

Volusia: Seven of the 10 candidates for three school board seats answered questions last week at a community forum about the district’s biggest challenges and how to recruit and retain teachers. Participating were District 1 incumbent Jamie Haynes and challenger Georgann Carnicella, District 3 candidates Justin Kennedy, Kim Short and Jessie Thompson, and District 5 incumbent Ruben Colon and challenger Fred Lowry. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Alachua: Students in middle and high schools will have to wear clear backpacks when schools open in August, district officials announced Monday. Students who don’t have the means to buy them will be provided clear backpacks by the district. The decision was prompted by the ongoing violence in schools, including the attack at a Texas elementary school in May in which 19 students and two teachers died, and an incident in May when an 8th-grader at Fort Clarke Middle in Gainesville brought a gun to campus. “This measure was taken to increase school safety and I think it’s a good idea,” said school board member Mildred Russell. Gainesville Sun. WGFL.

Colleges and universities: Capri Grotowski, the beach volleyball coach at Florida Atlantic University for the past eight years, died last week after battling breast cancer for almost 10 years. She was 38. WPTV. Palm Beach Atlantic University’s tennis coach is out of a job after his arrest in June on charges of charges of sexual battery and burglary with simple battery in Pasco County. Deputies said Carlos Cardona, 39, entered a woman’s house June 4 and sexually assaulted her. PBAU spokesman John Sizemore would said Cardona is “no longer employed by the university” and “that a search for a new head tennis coach is underway.” WPTV.

Around the nation: A Washington state high school football coach who knelt and prayed on the 50-yard line after games is protected in doing so by the Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in a 6-3 decision. Joseph Kennedy was told by his school in Bremerton to stop the prayers, and when he didn’t his contract was not renewed. Associated Press. NPR. The 74. Education Week. Chalkbeat.

Opinions on schools: Florida must set a high bar for reading performance on new state assessments — one that matches the benchmarks used on national reading tests. And then schools must be honest with parents as to how their children are doing and not allow a lowering of expectations to falsely mask underperformance. Jeb Bush, Miami Herald.

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BY NextSteps staff