Students demand diversity as Florida fights school culture wars

The big story: Not so long ago, Republican lawmakers were the ones complaining about how conservative voices were being drowned out in schools by the leftist agenda.

Now they are proposing proposals to the Florida Legislature to stifle classroom discussion of race, LGBTQ and other more liberal issues. Potentially affected communities are fighting back.

Leaders of some groups have suggested that the measures advanced by the House and Senate, which they have called “educational gag orders,” appear to violate the rights of students and teachers under the 1st and 14th Amendments. They said they were fighting for various stories about the nation and its citizens to be taught and shared without interference, as WUSF reports.

This is also what many students who feel attacked want.

On Monday, a group of them took to the streets outside their school in the conservative north-west of Hillsborough to make the point. “I was bullied for being a lesbian,” said Gaither High junior Saneria Knott. “Now I don’t care what anyone says. I will show this. I will support my pride.

Read on for the story.

It’s not just Florida. Students and teachers across the country have felt a chilling effect on what they can discuss in schools, Washington Post reports. More CNN.

Hot topics

Salary negotiations between Hillsborough County School District and Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, February 14, 2022 [ MARLENE SOKOL | Times ]

Teacher compensation: The Hillsborough County School District and its teachers’ union have reached a tentative agreement, giving teachers full credit for an additional year of service and guaranteeing a minimum salary of $47,500.

Name, Image and Likeness Rules: Florida was a national leader in creating NIL rules for student-athletes. As a result, it is behind states with less restrictive laws.

Sexual assault: Some parents in Escambia County want their school district to improve prevention efforts after a student was assaulted at a college, WEAR reports.

Stock Tallahassee

There is a push to add more black history to Florida schools. State Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Ocoee, is pushing for legislation to require more instruction on Emancipation Day in schools, suggesting opposition to ‘critical race theory’ is a election rhetoric, Florida politics reports. No more WMFEs.

What’s a legislative session in Florida without a new voucher or scholarship program? A Florida House subcommittee has proposed legislation to create a new $1,000 voucher for low-performing students whose schools have been closed for 10 or more days due to crises or disasters, Florida politics reports.

Not ready for school today? Students would be allowed to have excused absences for mental health needs under a bill passing through Florida House, WFLA reports.

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Today in Tallahassee… Previously scheduled House education committees have canceled their meetings. No major education bills are scheduled for consideration.

Other school news

Miami-Dade County’s new superintendent took office on Monday. José Dotres acknowledged that he faces great challenges, including gaining public trust after research that has raised many questions, the Miami Herald reports.

Not vaccinated yet? The Duval County School District has announced that it will offer more COVID-19 vaccination clinics, WJXT reports.

Peanut butter and jelly are making a comeback in Lee County schools. The district will host a Facebook Live event to explain the details, WINK reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you leave … Your favorite Super Bowl ad? This one made me laugh. (Stop listening, Alexa!)

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Martha K. Merrill