Idalia making landfall today as a major hurricane, state’s objections to AP black history course detailed, contract agreement, and more

Idalia moving up coast: Hurricane Idalia continued to strengthen as it moved up the Gulf Coast on Tuesday toward an expected landfall this morning in the Big Bend area as a dangerous Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 mph. As Idalia churned toward the north it threatened the west coast of the state with strong winds, heavy rain and a catastrophic storm surge that will cause flooding in low-lying areas. The state of emergency was extended to 49 of the state’s 67 counties, up from 46 Tuesday and 33 Monday. Schools in at least 47 K-12 districts across the state are closed and many are being used as shelters for those ordered to evacuate. Associated Press. USA Today Florida Network. Politico Florida. Tampa Bay Times. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. WTVT. WEAR. National Hurricane Center. Here are potential impacts from Idalia in regions around the state. WeatherTiger.

School closings: Public school districts closed today include Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Citrus, Charlotte, Clay, Columbia, Collier, DeSoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Nassau, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Volusia and Wakulla. Colleges and universities closed include Florida A&M, Florida State, New College, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of North Florida, University of South Florida, College of Central Florida, Eastern Florida State College, Florida Gateway College, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Hillsborough Community College, Lake-Sumter State College, North Florida College, Pasco-Hernando State College, Polk State College, Santa Fe College, Seminole State College, South Florida State College, St. Johns River State College, St. Petersburg College, State College of Florida, Tallahassee Community College, Valencia College, Eckerd College, University of Tampa, Saint Leo University and Stetson University College of Law. Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida Polytechnic University will conduct classes remotely. Florida Department of Education.

Objections to black history course: A review of documents shows that state education officials objected to a new Advanced Placement course on African American Studies not only because it had references to reparations, Black Lives Matter and “queer theory,” but also because they wanted to include perspectives on the “other” side of lessons about the slave experience. They did not detail whose perspective that would be. Another lesson they objected to was about the 1960s “Black is beautiful” movement because they could “possibly teach that rejecting cultural assimilation, and promoting multiculturalism and ethnic studies are current worthy objectives for African Americans today. This type of instruction tends to divide Americans rather than unify Americans around the universal principles in the Declaration of Independence.” Miami Herald.

Around the state: Broward teachers and the district reach a contract agreement that calls for 15-year veterans to receive raises of $12,000 a year, Broward’s school board postpones making a decision on canceling or changing an arrest diversion program for students who commit nonviolent offenses, Moms for Liberty’s tactic of reading sexually explicit passages from library books at a school board meeting pays off with at least 20 removals in Indian River County, at least 17 state school districts have yet to restore LGBTQ-themed books to school library shelves despite the state’s guidance that it’s okay to do so, and Collier school officials are being criticized for not closing schools Tuesday after several tornado warnings cause by Idalia delayed the release of students, and are closing schools today. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: District officials and the teachers union have reached a tentative contract agreement that will mean pay raises of $12,000 a year for teachers with 15 years or more of experience and an extra $500 for starting teachers. “We want to make sure we have a good competitive salary to keep them here and that they live amongst the community they teach in,” said Superintendent Peter Licata. WPLG. School board members decided Tuesday to delay making a decision on ending an arrest diversion program for students. The program, Promise, offered alternative punishments for students who committed nonviolent infractions as a way to keep them out of the criminal justice system. The proposal will be revisited at the board’s Oct. 17 meeting. WSVN.

Collier: District officials’ decision not to close schools Tuesday for the storm prompted a storm of criticism from parents when school releases were delayed by multiple tornado warnings, and heavy rain and some flooding affected traffic. Many parents took to the district’s Facebook page to comment, telling the district: “Do better,” “shame on you,” and “this is ridiculous.” District spokesman Chadwick Oliver said, “The outer bands of Hurricane Idalia caused us to adopt precautionary measures today. For those schools who were under a tornado warning, the students and staff remained safe inside the schools, which are built to be used as shelters.” Schools are closed today and expected to reopen Thursday. Naples Daily News. WINK. WFTX. WBBH.

Indian River: Reading sexually explicit passages from school library books convinced school board members to bypass the district’s standard book review process and order at least 20 books to be removed from libraries. The vote was unanimous. Moms for Liberty, the conservative activist group, devised the strategy to take advantage of a new state law that requires districts to remove books when someone is stopped from reading them during a public meeting, said Jennifer Pippin, president of the local chapter of the group. “We did the most inflammatory passages to be respectful of time,” she said. School board chair Peggy Jones stopped the readings from books such as The Handmaid’s Tale, The Bluest Eye and Go Ask Alice. Members of the audience then demanded the books be removed immediately under the provisions of H.B. 1069, which went into effect in July. TCPalm. WPEC.

Sumter: A woman was arrested after a brawl Saturday at The Villages Charter School football stadium. Deputies said Antiegra Dorvae James, 35, was arrested after another woman told them James had hit her several times in the face, bit her left forearm and took her cell phone. Villages News.

Colleges and universities: The non-disclosure agreements signed by members of the Florida Atlantic University presidential search committee mirror those used by the University of Florida last year during its presidential search. A rule approved by the Florida Board of Governors in November requires members of presidential search committees to sign non-disclosure agreements. The rule extended the secrecy provided by the 2022 Legislature to give public records and meetings exemptions to those searches, which allows information about applicants to be withheld until the end of the search. Legislators said some potential candidates didn’t apply before the bill because they didn’t want their current employers know they were looking for another job. News Service of Florida.

Board meeting canceled: This week’s scheduled state Board of Governors meetings were canceled by Hurricane Idalia. At their next meeting in September, members will consider adopting the Classic Learning Test as an alternative to the SAT and ACT for students to submit on college applications. WPEC.

Florida book restrictions: At least 17 Florida school districts have removed or restricted library books that contain LGBTQ characters or themes. Despite the state Department of Education’s guidance to the Lake County School District in June that “age restriction on sexual orientation and gender identity does not apply to library books,” none of the other districts appears to be taking corrective action. Popular Information.

Opinions on schools: With Florida’s new universal eligibility, every Florida student now has an exit option. The ability to leave and take your money with you isn’t just a form of accountability; it’s the ultimate form of accountability. All Florida students will benefit from the universal expansion of choice regardless of whether they use the program. Matthew Ladner, reimaginED. The new post-pandemic education landscape may not be the one we’d hoped for, but perhaps this fall we can get a clear view of what that landscape looks like so that we can move forward with a sense of how to make the journey. Peter Greene, The Progressive Magazine.

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BY NextSteps staff