Board approves ban of critical race theory teaching, unmasking students, budget problems and more

Board bans CRT in schools: Critical race theory will not be taught in Florida schools, the state Board of Education decided Thursday. The board approved a proposed state Department of Education rule banning teachers from defining American history as “something other than the creation of a new nation based largely on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence” or sharing their personal views or attempting to “indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.” Critical race theory contends that racism is embedded in the nation’s legal systems and policies. “We need to be educating people, not trying to indoctrinate them with ideology,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis. An amendment offered by board member Tom Grady added Holocaust denialism and the New York Times’ 1619 Project to the list of banned subject matter. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Politico Florida. Florida Times-Union. Sun Sentinel. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. Florida Politics. Florida Phoenix. WKMG. WJXT. WTVT. WJCT. Florida is the fifth state to bar the teaching of critical race theory in schools. Forbes. The Board of Education also approved rules that will allow college athletes to receive money for the use of their names, images and likenesses. News Service of Florida. Florida Phoenix.

Governor on masks: Gov. DeSantis said Thursday that Florida’s students should not be forced to wear face masks in the fall, and he wants the Department of Education to survey districts about their intentions. “I think most of them (districts) have already decided that kids should be able to go to school normally, that they should not be forced to wear masks,” DeSantis said. “But I think that that’s important that we that we do that statewide.” He said he won’t issue an order making masks optional, but will suggest that the state Board of Education or the Legislature do so. Sun Sentinel. Florida Politics.

Around the state: Volusia school officials said they plan to use federal coronavirus aid to cover a projected $46 million budget deficit for the next fiscal year, Hillsborough’s plan for improvement at two struggling elementary schools was approved by the state Board of Education while Escambia school officials have an extra month to develop a plan to improve a persistently low-performing middle school, 2018 Florida teacher of the year Tammy Jerkins from Leesburg High School has died at the age of 62, and a pilot program at five private schools that weaves history, science, art and other subjects into reading and writing is showing encouraging academic results. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Hillsborough: The state Board of Education has approved the district’s plan for improving the academic performance at two longtime struggling schools, Oak Park and Foster elementaries. The plan centers around extending the contract with MGT of America Consulting for Oak Park, Foster and six other schools. Superintendent Addison Davis said midyear assessments show the schools are getting closer where they need to be to get C grades from the state. Tampa Bay Times. A south Florida charter school company, Mater Academy Inc., is applying for approval to open two charter schools in the eastern part of the county. District officials are recommending the school board approve the applications at Tuesday’s meeting. Three other charter applications will also be considered. Tampa Bay Times.

Brevard: The librarian at Pinewood Elementary School in Mims has started a campaign to pay overdue library book fines for high school seniors so they can participate in their graduation ceremonies. Jill Goessel paid $65 to clear seniors at Titusville High School, then took to Facebook to ask others to do the same at their own high schools. “Often (with) our students, their home situations make it difficult to retrieve belongings that they’ve forgotten, or (maybe) they had to move suddenly. Or maybe financially their family’s not ready to take care of that obligation,” she said. She and other donors were thanked this week by the school board for their gesture. Florida Today.

Volusia: School officials said they are planning to use one-time federal coronavirus relief funds to cover a projected $46 million deficit in their budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Declining enrollment, contributions to an expanding state scholarship program, an increased contribution to the state pension system and other increasing expenses have contributed to the deficit. Chief financial officer Lisa Snead acknowledged the risks of using funding that won’t be available next year, but said the situation would be dire without the money. “I hate to say a sinking ship,” said Superintendent Scott Fritz, “but that’s what you’re doing; you’re plugging those holes.” Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Manatee: Real estate broker Garin Hoover has applied to the governor’s office to be appointed to the District 4 seat on the school board. Scott Hopes resigned June 2 after being hired as county administrator. Hoover has also filed with the supervisor of elections to run for the seat in the 2022 election. Bradenton Herald.

Lake: Tammy Jerkins, a Leesburg High School math teacher who was chosen as the 2018 Florida teacher of the year, died Wednesday of lung cancer. She was 62 and worked until a few months ago, teaching during the day and going to cancer treatments in the evening. “She was a leader and an expert in her field, and so it was fitting that she was named the Florida 2018 Teacher of the Year. I’m so glad she had the opportunity to see her life’s work celebrated in such a grand way,” said Superintendent Diane Kornegay. “She will be missed, but the impact of her legacy will be felt for generations to come.” Daily Commercial.

Escambia: The district will have another month, until July 14, to develop a plan to improve Warrington Middle School’s grade from the state after the Florida Board of Education declined to consider the plan at this week’s meeting. If the school doesn’t get a C from the state this summer, the district will have to hire a new principal and outside operator, and 80 percent of its English and math teachers will have to have three years of experience and be rated effective or highly effective in their evaluations. Pensacola News Journal. WEAR.

Leon: Oak Ridge Elementary School principal Jasmine Smith is using $12,500 in grant money to create a support network for her students and their families. Donations from the Foundation for Leon County Schools and the Walmart Foundation support the work of Smith’s team, called the Get Fresh Crew. “I want children to see our school as an extension of their family, their home and [to see us as] their team that is supportive of them in every way possible,” said Smith. Tallahassee Democrat.

Okaloosa: The conclusion of a school year unlike any other was welcomed in county schools. “From our pre-kindergarten all the way through to our graduating seniors, our students have persevered through the most challenging school year in memory,” said Superintendent Marcus Chambers. “Our teachers and school staffs are heroes, plain and simple.” Summer break will be just under nine weeks this year, with schools reopening Aug. 10. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Alachua: A lawsuit has been filed to remove Diyonne McGraw from the school board, claiming that she doesn’t live in the district she was elected to represent. The suit was filed against McGraw, the three-member Election Canvassing Board and Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton by former school board candidates Khanh-Lien Banko, Marlon Bruce, Thomas Cowart and Richard McNeill. No hearing date has been set. Gainesville Sun.

Indian River: Three students being taken home from a summer camp at Storm Grove Middle School were injured when their school bus collided with a tractor trailer Thursday in Sebastian. Troopers said the bus carrying 17 students rolled onto its side after the truck attempted an improper lane change and hit the bus. All three students were released from the hospital by Thursday evening. TCPalm. WPTV.

Putnam: The end of the school also brings the closing of four county schools. Miller Middle School, Jenkins Middle, Mellon Elementary and E.H. Miller School are all being shuttered as part of the district’s reorganization plan. WUFT.

Monroe: School board members have approved spending $28.7 million for a new Sugarloaf School. It will be two-story and 35,000 square feet, and the completion date is May 2023. Until then, some students will be placed in portable classrooms. Key West Citizen.

Madison: School board members are considering expanding the number of grades at Pinetta, Lee and Greenville elementary schools, which are all K-5 schools. Elias Paulk, a professor at North Florida College, suggested that adding grades at those schools will make for smaller class sizes and give parents more options, which could keep them from removing their children from the district. The board agreed to continue the discussion. Greene Publishing.

Colleges and universities: Florida State University president John Thrasher said he agreed with a task force’s recommendation that Doak Campbell Stadium not be renamed. Tallahassee Democrat. About 80 percent of University of Florida students had been vaccinated as of May, according to Mori Hosseini, chair of the board of trustees. Gainesville Sun. Eastern Florida State College is partnering with the Brevard County School District to start a program for students to become science teachers for grades 6-12. “When those students graduate from EFSC, they will have a job offer from (the Brevard district),” said Superintendent Mark Mullins. Eastern Florida State College. Vivian de las Cuevas-Diaz, a partner in the Holland and Knight legal firm, has been appointed by Gov. DeSantis to the board of trustees at Florida State University. Florida Politics. College enrollment was down about 5 percent during the spring semester from last year, a decline of about 727,000 students, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. NPR.

Curriculum pilot project: Five Florida private schools that took part in a pilot program weaving history, science, art and other subjects into reading and writing, instead of treating them as independent subjects, said the preliminary results are encouraging. “What I’ve noticed in students is that they have taken more ownership in their learning,” said Shakelia Henderson, principal of Alpha Learning Academy in Orlando. “They are more engaged in discussions; the discussions are more enriched than what I’ve observed before. The level of critical thinking has gone through the roof.” redefinED.

Around the nation: A new survey shows that 8 in 10 American parents plan to send their children back to their schools in the fall. But there’s a racial divide in the results. Just 10 percent of white parents say they aren’t sure of their plans or will keep their children at home, but that jumps to 28 percent for black parents and 27 percent for  Hispanic parents. And while only 53 percent of white parents want mask mandates in schools in the fall, 89 percent of Asian parents, 86 percent of black parents and 78 percent of Hispanic parents favor masks. The 74. The U.S. Department of Education has issued instructions defining equity requirements school districts must meet to receive federal stimulus funds. The rules are meant to ensure that states and districts don’t cut funding for students and schools with the highest needs. K-12 Dive.

Opinions on schools: Here are five pandemic-era K-12 education practices that should be discarded. Michael J. Petrilli, Education Next.

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