Civics education bill, food distribution programs, college scholarships and more

Camille Knox

In the Legislature: Gov. Ron DeSantis signed three education bills this week to direct how civics is taught in Florida public schools and universities, including a bill that seeks to assess “viewpoint diversity” on college campuses. The bills, House Bill 5, House Bill 233 and Senate Bill 1108, target how debate topics and civics education will be discussed from kindergarten through higher education. South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The Palm Beach Post. Florida Times-Union. Ft. Myers News-Press. DeSantis also signed a CPR bill that requires high school freshmen and juniors in Florida to take one hour of instruction on how to administer CPR. HB 157 passed the House and Senate in unanimous votes during the Legislative session. School districts, under the measure, would be required to provide one hour of “basic training in first aid, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation” to all students in 9th and 11th grades, and districts will be “encouraged” to begin giving basic first aid and CPR training to students in grade 6 and 8. The CPR measure was one of 44 signed earlier this week by DeSantis. WEAR TV. WPEC. Fox 35. And DeSantis signed a bill limiting restraint methods for disciplining students with disabilities. Some students have suffered from bleeding or bone fractures, and others have died under current restraining practices, according to the bill’s sponsor, Fort Lauderdale Rep. Bobby Dubose. HB 149 revises requirements for the use of seclusion and restraint as punishments for students with disabilities. Florida Politics. WTSP.

Around the state: A “Save our Students” town hall held in Indian River, pandemic takeaways for schools, Sarasota and Manatee food distribution programs are underway, new leaders to come at schools in Pinellas, a scholarship program emerges for Eatonville students, Florida Polytechnic receives a grant and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools and colleges and universities:

Palm Beach: Public schools were sued in Palm Beach County on Tuesday over a practice of forcing hundreds of students a year to undergo mental health examinations at psychiatric facilities. Advocates for disabled or minority children called the involuntary exams “excessive and illegal” in a federal lawsuit. The Palm Beach Post.

Orange: Eatonville students who graduate from Orange County’s public high schools could be offered college scholarships under a new initiative that is modeled after the scholarship program that hotelier Harris Rosen began decades ago in one of the county’s low-income communities. Travel + Leisure Co. will finance the new program in an effort to eventually provide up to 200 scholarships. Scholarships will be offered to Eatonville students who attend Hungerford Elementary School and later graduate from Edgewater, Evans or Wekiva high schools. The program will cover costs at a Florida public college or university, or a technical school. Orlando Sentinel.

Pinellas: One elementary school and two high schools in Pinellas County will have new principals for the coming academic year. The Pinellas County School Board approved the three principal appointments, which will begin July 1. Tampa Bay Times.

Manatee: There was a decline in third-grade students who scored “satisfactory” or better on the Florida Department of Education English language arts assessment, a measure of grade-level reading among the state’s third graders. Bradenton Herald.

Lake: Diane Kornegay, superintendent of Lake County Schools, recommended that Martez Edwards, football coach at East Ridge High, be terminated after an investigation found that he falsified his employment application with Lake County Schools. Edwards’ fate will be decided next week during the School Board’s regularly scheduled meeting. Sherri Owens, district spokeswoman, said Edwards said on his application that he never received a letter of reprimand or been disciplined by a public agency responsible for his licensure. Daily Commercial.

Indian River: A group of parents and community members say some elements of a proposed school curriculum would be inappropriate for elementary-aged students. Objections range from concerns about lessons discussing systemic racism, immigration and gender identity to concepts of critical race theory, and they were brought to light during a “Save our Students” town hall meeting earlier this week. TC Palm. Indian River County was the only Treasure Coast school district to maintain its third-grade reading score this year, according to the Florida Department of Education. For the second year, 60 % of Indian River third graders achieved a reading proficiency of Level 3 or above, making it one of only about a dozen districts statewide to maintain or improve their 2019 scores. TC Palm.

Food distribution: The Sarasota County School District kicked off a weekly summer food distribution, with three sites dedicated to providing families with meals during the summer. The program will run most Tuesdays between now and July 27. Participating families will receive enough breakfast and lunch food for the week. Meanwhile, in Manatee County, the school district has been distributing food on weekdays through buses, vans and “cabooses” at 17 locations throughout the county since June 1. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Teacher bonuses: The state’s public school classroom teachers and principals are slated to receive $1,000 bonuses this year, but some say Gov. DeSantis has tied his name to the financial recognition. Tampa Bay Times.

Pandemic report: The Consortium of Florida Education Foundations, a statewide organization supporting nonprofits that raise money for public schools, took suggestions from educators about what worked well during the pandemic that could be carried forward into the future. The result is a report highlighting 10 pandemic takeaways for schools. WLRN.

University news: A program that involved Florida State University medical students being housed at a firehouse is coming to an end. Citrus County Chronicle. Florida Polytechnic has received a $10,000 grant from the American Association of University Women to help inspire girls to pursue STEM careers. The grant will fund the purchase of STEM kits, and will also help transport students to campus for robotic and engineering activities. ABC Action News.  Florida State University is mourning the loss of former volleyball star Brianna Barry. Tallahassee Democrat. Anthony E. Jones will be new vice president of enrollment management and student experience at Bethune-Cookman University. He arrives from Howard University, where he was associate provost and assistant vice president of enrollment management. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Opinions on schools: In June, the Florida Board of Education voted to ban public schools from teaching students about critical race theory, which is not an ideology, but an approach that teaches students to be critical and answer and consider multiple historiographical perspectives. Uma Menon, The Washington Post.

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