Solar system fun for middle-schoolers, mayoral resolutions, smalltooth sawfish and more

Pasco: VU Tampa Bay is a state-of-the-art virtual production studio in Tampa’s University Mall that has used Hollywood-level technology to assist brands like Mercedes and John Deere. Recently, the entire solar system was unveiled on a 100-foot LED screen for middle-schoolers at Dayspring Academy in Pasco. VU was tasked with the planetary display by Scholar Education, a local educational technology startup that piloted a Space Camp program for students at the school. ABC Action News.

Mayoral resolutions: Some mayors in the state of Florida are taking a stance against efforts to diminish LBGTQ+ student rights in schools by signing resolutions and proclamations against the direction lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis have taken in areas that include lessons on gender identity and pronoun usage. Tampa Bay Times. K-12 Dive.

License lost: A Palm Beach county middle school teacher surrendered his teaching license after being accused of touching three 11-year-old girls. Russell Vacherlon chose to surrender his license instead of fight the discipline efforts from the Education Practices Commission. The investigation into the allegations began on Nov. 1, 2018 after several students met with the principal to report the allegations. WPEC. South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Presidential search: In the midst of a pause in the search for a new president at Florida Atlantic University, leaders of a First Amendment group and a national higher education association are pointing to a new law that shields presidential candidates identities as harmful to academic freedom and public trust. “They (potential candidates) may not apply, just because they don’t want their current employer to know they were applying,” said former state Sen. Jeff Brandes, who helped sponsor the bill. News Service of Florida.

University and college news: New College of Florida is shifting returning students into housing in buildings with mold issues identified by an outside consultant to make room for student-athletes and other incoming freshmen. Weeks before the beginning of the fall semester, officials emailed returning students to tell them their housing assignments had been altered to accommodate the influx. Zoe Fountain, a 20-year-old psychology and gender studies student involved in student government, said “We are being treated as inconveniences that they need to move around.”   Sarasota Herald-Tribune.  While on a boat off the coast of Cedar Key with his class, Dean Grubbs expected his students to see a lot of sharks. The associate director of research at Florida State University’s Coastal and Marine Laboratory said he instead hauled in a 13-foot smalltooth sawfish, something not seen in north Florida for decades. “It’s like they’re from another world. They’re like aliens,” Grubbs said. He caught and tagged the endangered adult female fish about a week ago with Gavin Naylor, director of the state’s museum of natural history’s shark research program during a shark field course held each summer with FSU and University of Florida students. Tallahassee Democrat. President Aysegul Timur is officially on the job at Florida Gulf Coast University. Timur was previously university vice president  and vice provost for strategy and program innovation. She is the first woman to lead the university after being approved by the Florida Board of Governors on June 22. “For the past 25 years, Southwest Florida has been my home and I love being a member of the Southwest Florida community,” said Timur. She will earn $500,000 annually with her three-year contract.  Ft. Myers News-Press.

Opinions on schools: Legacy admissions give wealthy people a leg-up in ensuring that generational wealth, privilege and power remain in the family. And the origins of the practice lie in antisemitism. Sonali Kolhatkar, Flagler Live. When the school board in Hillsborough county voted in May to close Just Elementary, it wasn’t a surprise. Just is the only school in the state to receive an “F” from the state Department of Education, and less than 11% of its students can read at grade level.  The closure should have been good news for families whose children attend Just since there’s a great public school, Gorrie Elementary, about 2 miles away. Tim DeRoche, the 74th.

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BY Camille Knox