Book donations, the parental power index, school lawsuits and more

Around the state: High school students in Lee donated thousands of books to an elementary school that lost everything during Hurricane Ian, parents in Brevard spoke out against proposed changes to the district’s disciplinary rules and an investigation revealed new information about Bright Futures scholarships. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools and colleges and universities:

Palm Beach: A former assistant superintendent is suing the school district and superintendent after alleging that they infringed on her right to free speech. The controversy began with a tweet from Diana Fedderman.  Palm Beach Post.

Brevard: Parents in this school district spoke out against proposed changes to the district’s disciplinary rules during a school board meeting held this week. Proposed policy changes would include a zero tolerance policy for student-initiated violence and an almost total ban on cell phones. WMFE.

Lee: Students from the National English Honor Society at Oasis High School gathered about 2,000 books for Hector Cafferata Elementary School, where everything was lost during Hurricane Ian. The books were even organized in the shape of a Christmas tree. WINK.

Citrus: A donation of $10,000 was made to Crystal River’s middle and high schools. Citrus County Chronicle.

Escambia: The Escambia Children’s Trust delayed awarding its largest round of grants to date after public outcry over its selection process. Pensacola News Journal. WEAR.

Magnet or choice schools: If you want to send your child to the school closest to your office or babysitter instead of the one zoned for your neighborhood, applications are required, and various deadlines must be met for parents seeking school choice. TC Palm.

Lost time: Parents around the country are trying to recoup services lost to the pandemic. In a 2020 survey, 20% of parents of students with disabilities said their children were receiving required services and a 2021 report said the pandemic was exacerbating learning gaps for those students. Meanwhile, district officials say they can’t be blamed for the pandemic, which was out of their control. The 74th.

Bright Futures: In Florida, Bright Futures benefits have disproportionately gone to students from more affluent areas, bypassing students in poorer neighborhoods, according to an investigation in the Orlando Sentinel. “We’re giving scholarships to the kids who would go to college without that,” said Mary Borg, a University of North Florida professor of political economy. “We need to concentrate our public dollars on kids who can’t go to college without this kind of aid.” Orlando Sentinel.

University and college news: The new dean of the Miami Dade College School of Education hopes to boost enrollment. Dr. Carmen Concepción took the helm in September during a time when 55% of current teachers are considering leaving the profession early, according to a survey from the National Education Association. “Enrollment in the School of Education over the past few years — across the nation — is not where it needs to be,” Concepción said. WLRN. Aisha Visram made history when she became the first woman of color to work as an athletic trainer on a National Hockey League game day bench, and the first woman to serve in that role in two decades. She graduated this week from Florida International University with a doctorate in athletic training. The Miami Herald. Darren Gambrell, a long-time employee at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus, has been named the associate director of the school’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion office this week. Gambrell has worked at USFSM in various capacities for almost 20 years, and is a U.S. Army veteran. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Parental power: The state’s chapter of the National School Choice Parent Organization has recognized Florida’s top spot on the Parent Power Index, which evaluates states on access to educational innovation and school choice.  The ranking showed that Florida was at the top of the national for digital and personalized learning, and access to choice programs that include scholarships, vouchers and tax credits. Nationwide, Florida ranked second for access to charter schools and third in teacher quality.  Florida Politics. 

Opinions on schools: Setting up a comfortable classroom to meet students needs as well as teachers is possible with the help of a few items. Kem Smith, Chalkbeat. Generational wealth could be key to ending childhood poverty. One element that would help is making sure children are in safe, supportive schools with excellent teachers to inspire them. They also need academic skills and enrichment as well as thoughtful career advice. Stephanie J. Hull, The 74th.

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BY Camille Knox