The homeschooling population in the United States is predominantly white and concentrated in suburban or rural areas. In 2016, black children accounted for 8 percent of the 1.7 million homeschooled students nationally, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics. What federal education data don’t show, though, is what’s driving those 136,000 or so black students and their families into homeschooling. Nor do the data reveal the tenacity and tradition that bond this homeschooling movement—a movement that challenges many of the prevailing stereotypes about homeschooling, which tends to be characterized as the province of conservative Christians, public-school opponents, and government skeptics.
For VaiVai and many other black homeschoolers, seizing control of their children’s schooling is an act of affirmation—a means of liberating themselves from the systemic racism embedded in so many of today’s schools and continuing the campaign for educational independence launched by their ancestors more than a century ago. In doing so, many are channeling an often overlooked history of black learning in America that’s rooted in liberation from enslavement. When seen in this light, the modern black homeschooling movement is evocative of African Americans’ generations-long struggle to change their children’s destiny through education—and to do so themselves.
A statewide homeschooling group is informing school districts that a new law bars them from creating new roadblocks or information requests for would-be homeschoolers.
Florida law requires homeschoolers to register with their local school districts. Parents must send a signed notice of intent to the district superintendent with the students’ names, birthdates and addresses. But House Bill 731, recently signed by Gov. Rick Scott, bars districts from requiring other information.
In the letter to superintendents, the Florida Parent Educators Association cites the new statute, explaining that once a parent contacts the district about beginning a home education program, the district “shall accept the notice and immediately register the home education program upon receipt of notice.”
The law does not require parents to provide proof of residency or a birth certificate. However, the Miami-Dade School Board adopted a policy requiring parents to provide those documents. And parents have complained of similar practices in other counties, including Broward, Hillsborough and St. Lucie. This has prompted some families in those districts to use other methods, like non-traditional private schools, to teach their children at home.
The text of the letter, distributed to supporters by email, is below: Continue Reading →
State budget: The Florida Senate and House overwhelmingly approve an $88.7 billion state budget that increases per-student spending by an average of $101.50 statewide, but is lower in some of the state’s largest districts. “How can anyone justify per-student increases of $65.06 and $52.35 for Miami-Dade and Broward, respectively?” tweeted Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. Earlier Sunday, Gov. Rick Scott signed the higher education bill that permanently boosts spending for Bright Futures scholarships, and the K-12 bill that includes a new scholarship program for bullied victims. News Service of Florida. Tampa Bay Times. Palm Beach Post. Orlando Sentinel. Politico Florida. Tallahassee Democrat. GateHouse. The Legislature also passed a $170 million tax cut bill that includes a three-day tax holiday on school supplies. News Service of Florida. Associated Press.
School safety bill: Gov. Scott signs the $400 million school safety bill, despite being lobbied by educators who don’t like the idea of arming school personnel and NRA officials who don’t like the new restrictions on gun sales. The NRA quickly files a suit in federal court against the law, calling it a violation of the Second Amendment. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Politico Florida. Tampa Bay Times. redefinED. Palm Beach Post. GateHouse. Here’s what the new school safety bill does. Palm Beach Post. Stoneman Douglas students and parents had vowed that “this time would be different.” And it was. But school students say while it’s a start, it isn’t enough. Miami Herald. Some private schools are ahead of public schools on security issues. Palm Beach Post. President Trump backs away from his earlier proposals on gun restrictions and is now calling for the creation of a federal Commission on School Safety, led by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, to make long-range policy suggestions. Tampa Bay Times. Politico Florida. Associated Press. No one really knows how many students bring guns to schools, because schools are lax in reporting those incidents and the information detailing it is inconsistently collected and outdated. Stateline.
Reaction to safety bill: Law enforcement and school officials say there isn’t enough money in the bill to put an armed resource officer in every school. They say $360 million is needed but the bill only provides $162 million, which means arming school personnel may be the only option for full coverage. Tallahassee Democrat. Why the state’s school superintendents opposed the bill. Washington Post. Miami-Dade school officials are working on a plan to put armed officers at every school. Miami Herald. Central Florida educators say they want police officers, not teachers or other school workers, to be armed on campuses. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. Manatee County school officials join other large districts around the state in saying they’re unlikely to arm any school personnel other than resource officers under the new law. Bradenton Herald. The Citrus County School Board will be asked to place school resource officers into more schools. Several elementary schools share a deputy. Citrus County Chronicle.
School board term limits: A proposal before the Constitution Revision Commission to limit school board terms is revised. Sponsor Erika Donalds now wants to limit board members to serving eight consecutive years, starting Nov. 6, 2018. The earlier version, which had been approved by a CRC committee, would have begun with service since 2015. Gradebook. Several education issues are among the proposals CRC members will consider in its final report to the secretary of state May 10. Florida Today. Continue Reading →
On the last day of their annual legislative session, Florida lawmakers unanimously passed the most significant legislation to impact homeschool families in years.
House bill 731 would rein in school districts’ inquiries to parents who start home education programs. The legislation came in response to concerns among parents that districts were adding hurdles for homeschool registration. That likely contributed to a decline in homeschooling in some districts, even though state statistics show its popularity is growing statewide.
Home education advocates proposed similar legislation multiple times, but it did not pass until this year. The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Scott. Continue Reading →
Education bill: The Senate is expected to vote today on the massive education bill, which would create a state scholarship for bullied students, boost the money available for special-needs students that would be funded through a corporate lease tax credit, offer $500 savings accounts for tutoring to low-performing readers in elementary schools, and decertify teachers unions that don’t have 50 percent of their eligible employees as dues-paying members, among other things. If approved, the bill goes back to the House for a vote. Tampa Bay Times. redefinED. News Service of Florida. State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotasassa, calls the Senate’s leadership “third world” after his failed attempt to amend the provision that could decertify teachers unions. Tampa Bay Times. Politico Florida. As the Legislature enters its final week, it still has to pass the education bill, the school safety bill, and a budget that includes a small hike for K-12 schools and a boost for Bright Futures scholarships, among other things. Associated Press. Tampa Bay Times.
School safety bill: The Florida Senate, in a rare Saturday session, finalizes a school safety bill that allows teachers to carry guns in schools but does not ban assault weapons. The amendment banning assault weapons passed in a voice vote, but was then rejected in a roll call vote. The proposed bill would require a three-day waiting period to buy all firearms, boost the legal age to buy a rifle or a shotgun from 18 to 21, ban bump stocks, put an armed police officer in every school, and boost funding for mental health care. Here are the amendments that passed, and those that failed. The Senate is expected to take a final vote today. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. Politico Florida. If the Legislature passes a school safety bill that includes a provision that allows teachers to be armed, it’s unclear if Gov. Rick Scott could veto it. He opposes having teachers carrying guns. Palm Beach Post. During Saturday’s debate, Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, says thoughts and prayers are the only thing that can stop the evil behind mass shootings. Miami Herald. A review of school shootings seems to indicate that any one preventative measure being proposed could have stopped at least one of the assaults, but not all of them. Miami Herald. Experts say the legislation not only won’t stop the next Nikolas Cruz, but it creates a parallel mental health system that duplicates services. Politico Florida. Leon County officials work to improve security at schools while waiting to see what comes out of the Legislature. Tallahassee Democrat.
Teacher removed for podcast: A social studies teacher at Crystal River Middle who has been hosting a white nationalist podcast under a different name and boasting that she’s pushing her views to her students has been removed from the classroom while the Citrus County School District investigates. On her podcast Unapologetic, under the pseudonym Tiana Dalichov, 25-year-old Dayanna Volitich has promoted the idea that some races are smarter than others, that terrorism won’t end until all Muslims are “eradicated,” and praised the work of anti-Semitic authors and white supremacists. Volitich says her statements were political satire. Huffington Post. Citrus County Chronicle. WFLA. Continue Reading →
Carvalho to NYC: Miami-Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho will be introduced today as the new New York City schools chancellor, according to reports. Carvalho, 53, who has been the Miami-Dade school chief since 2008, replaces the retiring Carmen Farina. His start date has not been set. Carvalho won the national superintendent of the year award in 2014, and was said to have been a top contender for the U.S. education secretary job if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency. “Alberto Carvalho is a world-class educator with an unmatched track record of success,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “I am very confident that our extensive, national search has found New York City the best person to lead the nation’s largest school system into the future.” The Miami-Dade school board meets today to discuss “the stability of the executive management leadership.” Politico Florida. New York Times. Miami Herald. Associated Press. The 74. Chalkbeat.
School safety bills: The Legislature’s collective desire to create a bill that improves school safety is already showing signs of fraying. Both the Senate and House bills call for arming teachers, which Gov. Rick Scott opposes. Thirteen of the Senate’s 15 Democratic members say they won’t support the bill unless it has stronger gun control provisions. Two Republican senators say they may vote against it because it calls for a three-day waiting period for most gun purchases and raises the legal age for buying rifles to 21. Polls show a strong public sentiment for tightening gun laws, and family members of victims are worried that gun advocates are using the tragedy to introduce guns in schools. Miami Herald. Florida Politics. President Donald Trump urges Congress to move quickly on tougher background checks on gun purchases, raising the legal age for some gun purchases, improving school safety and allocatng more money for mental health treatment. Politico Florida. Associated Press. New York Times. USA Today. Experts say hardening schools against shootings is not as effective as identifying threats early and intervening quickly. Politico Florida.
Education budget: Senate and House negotiators are moving toward an agreement on spending for education. In the first conference committee negotiations, senators agreed to the House’s position on funding for public schools and will use increases in local taxes from new construction, but lower the tax rate on existing properties to offset tax increases driven by rising property values. The committees meet again today and Friday, with a goal of sending a final agreement to the Senate president and House speaker by Sunday morning. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Gradebook.
Students return: Students returning to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for the first time since the Feb. 14 shootings that killed 17 people describe the day as “odd but calming.” Surrounded by a heavy police presence, they observed 17 seconds of silence, ate bagels and cream cheese and got comfort from therapy animals and hugs from fellow students and staff. About 95 percent of the 3,300 students came for the four-hour day devoted to healing. Thursday and Friday also will be four-hour days, with the regular schedule expected to resume next week. Superintendent Robert Runcie says the massive police presence will gradually ease. “We have to strike a balance in security,” says Runcie. “This is not some armed camp.” Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. WQAM. Associated Press. Students talk about their anger and hope. Sun-Sentinel. Continue Reading →
Provisions in a wide-ranging education bill moving through the Florida Senate provoked fears among home education advocates. But they may prove to be a short-lived glitch.
Right now, as worded, the Senate’s rewrite of HB 7055 would prevent parents from using private tutors, as well as certain non-traditional private schools, to satisfy school attendance requirements.
However, a key lawmaker facilitating negotiations in the late stages of the legislative session said Tuesday that she intends to fix the issue. She said her goal is to eliminate out-dated provisions of state law, not to restrict homeschooling.
“We are going to amend the bill to take care of any of the questions that were asked by the parents of the homeschoolers,” Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, told the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday. “We’ll do that on the floor.” Continue Reading →
Students march: Survivors of the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Valentine’s Day lead a march of thousands to the state Capitol, then meet with state lawmakers to call for a ban on assault-style weapons. They say the response from legislators was discouraging, but they vow to continue to fight. Sun-Sentinel. Associated Press. Miami Herald. Palm Beach Post. Politico Florida. Gatehouse Media. Tallahassee Democrat. News Service of Florida. The 74. More than 40 survivors of the Parkland, Columbine and Sandy Hook school shootings and parents plead with President Donald Trump to make students safe during a meeting Wednesday. “How many children have to get shot?” asked Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in Parkland. Trump vowed to bolster background checks and mental health screenings, and supported the idea of allowing teachers and staff to carry guns at schools. Associated Press. New York Times. Education Week. Politico Florida. Why arming teachers is highly unlikely to happen. Politico Florida. Parkland students have raised $3.5 million to finance a national gun-control movement. Miami Herald. Sun-Sentinel. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is jeered at a town hall meeting held by CNN. Sun-Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. High school students around Florida walk out of classes and take part in marches Wednesday as a show of support for Douglas High students. Sun-Sentinel. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. Gradebook. WFTV. Fort Myers News-Press. WFTX. WESH. Florida Today. TCPalm. Naples Daily News. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Key West Citizen. Associated Press.
Returning to Douglas: Broward County school officials detail the plan to reintroduce students to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Counselors and an added police presence will greet the students when they return Tuesday for a half-day of classes. Sunday, the school will hold a “voluntary campus orientation” with a variety of support services available. Miami Herald.