Parental rights bill sent to DeSantis, Polk student starts foundation, 3D mural and more

Camille Knox

In the Legislature: One of 24 bills formally sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis last week included a measure that would put into state law a series of parents rights that are related to their children’s education and health care. HB 241, which passed earlier this year during the legislative session, would spell out the rights of parents to “direct the education and care of his or her minor child,” including a right to “access and review all school records” that are related to the student. CBS Miami. WINK News.

Around the state: A Polk County student who was bullied started a foundation to raise awareness about a rare disease, students in Miami-Dade County created a 3D mural, a search is on for a new principal in Escambia and teachers were recognized at an awards ceremony. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

School’s out: South Florida schools are officially out for the summer, with Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach finishing their academic years in the past few weeks. Summer school this year could be the busiest that many districts have experienced as they attempt to prepare students for returning to in-person learning this fall. WLRN.

Miami-Dade: Students from South Pointe Elementary, Miami Beach Senior High and Miami Lakes Educational Center unveiled a 3D mural that features two children and a sea turtle surrounded by sea life. CBS Miami. Five students in Miami-Dade were highlighted after making it through a tough year, proving that the class of 2021 can do anything. Miami Herald.

Volusia: Spruce Creek High graduate Elizabeth Meyer is preparing to report to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, as one of about 1,200 candidates for the class of 2025. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Polk: Taylor Brown was diagnosed with scleroderma in 2014 after having symptoms for years. She was bullied in school about the disease, which left marks on her skin, in addition to fatigue and internal issues. This led Brown and her mother to start Taylor’s Journey Foundation to educate people about the condition and help build the confidence of other teenagers who struggle with similar experiences. Spectrum Bay News 9.

St. Johns: The St. Augustine Democratic Club’s scholarship committee awarded three students the inaugural Annette Cappella Memorial Scholarship of $500 each. The scholarship fund honors Cappella, a longtime educator who died on March 2. The scholarships were offered to students attending Pedro Martinez and St. Augustine high schools.  St. Augustine Record.

Escambia: The Escambia County School District began a national search to find a potential new principal for Warrington Middle. The principal would be needed if the school fails to earn a “C” grade this year. School grades have not yet been released by the state, but the district is looking for a principal who can meet Florida Board of Education requirements so they can be prepared for next year in case Warrington earns a “D” or an “F” grade. Pensacola News Journal.

Flight academy: Chappie James Flight Academy leaders are working to expose children to the field of aviation. The academy, which is administering a free summer camp, is developing an aviation-based curriculum for the Dixon School of Arts and Sciences for next school year. Pensacola News Journal.

Workforce skills: A former teacher who founded a nonprofit to help low-income and homeless students recently joined a statewide initiative designed to aid students who want to build their workforce skills. Jennifer Smith is a youth entrepreneurship specialist for the Tallahassee-based Florida Afterschool Network’s newly launched expansion to help prepare young people for the changing workplace. The Florida Times-Union.

Teachers awarded: The Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Banquet in Ft. Myers honored educators. Ft. Myers News-Press.

Maya’s Book Nook: A 5-year-old and her mother, a Florida State University professor, run a website dedicated to showcasing diverse books for kids. The website launched in 2018. Books featured on the website are a blend of seasonal books and  books based on current events. They are mostly tailored for children aged 4 to 8. Tallahassee Democrat.

University news: University of Central Florida is one of two Florida schools given hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money to assist with COVID-19 research efforts. WESH. The Kugelman Honors Program at the University of West Florida selected 15 students to create a public mural as a collective response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The mural is on display at the John C. Pace Library. The program sponsored the project as part of its Equity and Diversity Initiative. Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

Opinions on schools: Celebrations of Juneteenth as a federal holiday have come to a close, commemorating the emancipation of slaves in the United States. But realizing physical freedom was the first step to manifesting the hopes and dreams of the enslaved. Next up is educational freedom, which is the right for all students to learn in a setting that is conducive for their needs, learning styles and abilities, regardless of where they live, their family’s income or their background. African-American boys and girls have too long been denied access to a high-quality education.  Denisha Merriweather, redefinED. In an effort to empower lower-income families by giving them the opportunity to choose a school deemed best for their child, one solution could be to create urban campuses that consist of both public and private schools, each with their own style and mission. John E. Coons, redefinED.  The Hillsborough County School Board voted against contracts for four existing charters and denied an application from Mater Academy to open two new charter schools. But by denying high-quality educational opportunities to Hillsborough County families, the school board charges its students and the district a steep cost. Patricia Levesque, Tampa Bay Times. Increasing civic literacy, education and engagement benefits our country. Audrey Henson, Orlando Sentinel. While the Florida State Board of Education made the decision to eradicate critical race theory from public school curriculum, now is the time to continue to support school districts and teachers as they work diligently to ensure curriculum accurately reflects facts around the role that race and racism play in shaping our country and its policies. Kimberly Allen, The Florida Times-Union. If you’re looking for a great solution to keep food fresh and help your college student save money by cooking, mini-fridges are an option. Jane Vanvooren Rogers, South Florida Sun Sentinel. 

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