Florida’s school culture wars disappoint teachers caught in the middle

The big story: Florida lawmakers passed new laws this year targeting what they saw as “indoctrination” in public schools.

They’ve created rules about what teachers can teach, especially around race and gender, and placed new requirements on books and other materials that come into classrooms and libraries. They established new rights for parents to control what happens to their children in schools.

The effort hasn’t just worried educators. It also disappointed them, because the underlying message they hear is that teachers have become bad people with the aim of undermining families and abusing children.

At a recent law training, a Pasco County deputy superintendent told her staff not to get discouraged. They are professionals who are already doing what the state wants. And if complaints come in, she added, “We’ve got your back.” Learn more here.

Back to school

School meals: A Christian school in Tampa has received a waiver from federal gender identity guidelines, allowing it to continue providing free and reduced-price meals to its students.

Day one concerns: Bay County schools are reminding parents of new students to make sure they are enrolled, reports the Panama City News Herald. • Leon County schools will once again allow volunteers into schools, reports the Tallahassee Democrat. • The St. Johns County School District will not have all of its portable classrooms in place for the return of students, reports WJAX.

Student health: Florida schools have not been given any guidance on how to handle monkeypox cases, reports Florida Phoenix. • Central Florida districts will have limited protocols for COVID-19, reports WKMG. • The Seminole County School District now requires parental consent to provide first aid to children, reports WKMG.

Bus routes: The Orange County School District is adding more bus trips to multiple high schools, to provide more consistency in ride times. Officials acknowledged the plan would mean more inconvenience for students, WFTV reports. • The Seminole County School District launched a new app to provide bus information to parents. It didn’t work, reports WOFL.

Other Hot Topics

Teacher compensation: With inflation high, many Florida educators are accepting side jobs despite raises, reports Spectrum 13.

Vacancies for teachers: Santa Rosa and Escambia counties are among many districts still trying to fill all of their teaching positions, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Campus Security: The cost of placing armed officers on Marion County school campuses has increased 20% since 2019, reports the Ocala Star-Banner. • Schools in Lake County have installed a new crisis alert system, reports the Daily Commercial.

School Board Policy: A Clay County School Board candidate is using cameras to try to catch whoever is stealing her campaign signs, WJXT reports. • A Sarasota County school board member says Florida has many “woke” school board members “working from within” to protect themselves against growing conservative interests, Fox News reports.

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Before you leave … RIP Olivia Newton John. She topped the charts with “Physical” and “Magic,” but this was her first big hit.

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Martha K. Merrill