Florida schools begin removing books amid reviews sparked by limits in law

The big story: Florida school districts have grappled with the state’s new law regarding library book selection and the associated training required for media specialists.

Many educators have complained that vague language makes it difficult to know what books to have available for students. Some worry that other laws, which focus on instruction on race and gender issues, could spill over to the question of what titles are in their libraries and classrooms.

In Pinellas County, that confluence of factors resulted in the removal of award-winning author Toni Morrison’s first book, “The Bluest Eye,” from all high schools. The district acted after a parent complained about the book in a high school class. Read more here.

The Manatee County School Board was scheduled to hold a special meeting Tuesday to address concerns that teachers were removing books from their classrooms due to the laws, WFTV reports. The district had sent out a memo saying that violation of the law could result in felony charges.

Current issues

Testing: Hillsborough County Schools saw dramatic improvements in state accountability measures last year. Some critics alleged that a top district official urged schools to keep lower-achieving students off state tests.

Diversity: Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez told the State University System Board of Governors that the administration seeks to curb diversity and inclusion efforts at Florida colleges and universities. • The DeSantis administration has been promoting several controversial policies that have pitted faculty members against college and university leaders, Florida Phoenix reports.

District Leadership: The Broward County School Board renewed its decision to part ways with Superintendent Vickie Cartwright, the Sun-Sentinel reports. With a different membership, the board first moved to fire Cartwright in November. More from the Miami Herald. • The Brevard County School Board plans to elect its new superintendent by May 2, reports WKMG.

Discipline: The Brevard County School Board discussed whether it needs to further refine its student discipline policy, which it revised in early January, reports WKMG.

Programs of choice: A progressive think tank estimates that Florida’s Republican-proposed education savings account program could cost the state billions of dollars, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Board Policy: An investigative report found that Lee County School Board member Chris Patricca created a hostile work environment with harassing and demeaning behavior, reports WFTX. • A member of the state House introduced legislation to establish 8-year term limits for school board members, one day after Gov. Ron DeSantis called for the measure, reports the Florida News Service. The new 12-year term limits for board members went into effect for those elected in 2022.

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African American Studies: A prominent civil rights attorney plans to file a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis over the rejection of the new AP African-American studies course for Florida schools, Florida Phoenix reports. • The College Board intends to release the full course framework on February 1, the first day of Black History Month, NPR reports.

Other school news

The Hillsborough County School District has a growing population of homeless students. The School Board approved a number of services to help those children and their families, reports WTVT.

The weather outside is dreadful. Bay County schools have delayed the start of classes on Wednesday due to severe weather forecasts, the Panama City News Herald reports. Walton County Schools made a similar decision, reports WMBB.

TikTok could be popular with students at Florida public universities. It could soon be blocked on campuses, Politico Florida reports.

From the police diary… Two Marion County teens were arrested in connection with a weapon finding on campus last fall, WESH reports. • A Palm Beach County high school teacher who was arrested with a gun and knife on campus had previous run-ins with police, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Don’t miss a story. The link to yesterday’s summary is here.

Before you leave … About that one-hit wonder a-ha. They may have topped the American charts in 1985, but they’re still making music.

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