Back-to-school events, history standards stir controversy, mentors needed and more

Around the state: Mentors are needed for a program in Citrus, history standards stir controversy nationwide, a change in plans at the newest high school in Palm Beach, back-to-school giveaways in Duval and Orange and new leadership in Lee. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, colleges and universities:

Broward: The new schools superintendent here is no stranger to South Florida public schools. Dr. Peter Licata grew up in Pompano Beach and spent three decades as a teacher, principal and administrator in Palm Beach County. WLRN.

Palm Beach: A change in plans for this county’s newest high school will result in a new artificial turf football field for about $1.4 million. Dr. Joaquín García High will be just the fourth public high school in the district with a turf field. When the district staff made the change just six weeks before the football team’s home opener, they didn’t allow the normal bidding process to keep the price competitive, saying that they did not have time. Crews from Pirtle Construction were installing the base for a natural sod football field at the school — the district’s first new high school in 18 years — when the school board approved the artificial turf on Wednesday.  Palm Beach Post.

Orange: With school starting in a few weeks in this county, events and giveaways abound to make sure students are all set for their first day. This weekend, hundreds of families showed up at Eccleston Elementary for a literacy and book giveaway that was hosted in part by Need to Read Inc., a nonprofit that regularly hosts literacy events to emphasize the importance of reading at a young age. “We have to start early with our children because low literacy leads to all kinds of detrimental outcomes,” said Pastor Roderick Zak. WKMG.

Duval: One mother who lost her son is making sure kids have what they need to have a good school year. For the second year in a row, there will be a back-to-school giveaway in honor of Rashaud Fields, set for noon on July 29 at The Legends Center on Soutel Drive. At least 200 backpacks will be given away, as well as school supplies. There will also be food, drinks, games and a chance for kids to participate in flag football and a basketball tournament. News 4 Jax.

Lee: There are 14 new principals in Lee county schools. Ft. Myers News-Press.

Citrus: Mentors are needed for the 2023-24 school year for a program called Men Building Men and Women Building Women. The goal is to provide young men and women in Citrus with positive, influential role models who are willing and committed to giving them leadership, guidance and direction to become successful in life.  “You know they’re going through a rough time, and a lot of them have poor attendance and poor grades … and for some, school just isn’t their priority because of other things that are going on,” said mentor Curtis Lewis. Citrus Chronicle.

Controversial history standards: In the wake of the Florida Department of Education’s new standards on African American history that suggest slaves benefited from skills they learned while enslaved, the department issued a statement that offered examples of 16 historic figures they said fit that description. But Vice President Kamala Harris said extremists want to “replace history with lies” as she traveled to Florida on Friday. Meanwhile, the American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and her colleague Leo Casey on Saturday issued a joint statement. Tampa Bay Times. Miami Herald. WFTV. NPR.

Shelter bill: The U.S. House last week passed a bill to bar the use of public K-12 school facilities to provide shelter for migrants seeking asylum in the United States. The bill is known as the “School Not Shelters Act,” and if enacted into law, public schools and public higher education institutions would risk losing federal funding if they provide shelter to migrants who have not been admitted into the country. Florida Phoenix.

University and college news: Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that Michael White was appointed to the Board of Trustees at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, or FAMU. White’s confirmation is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate. White is set to replace Michael Dubose, whose term expired in January. “As a proud Rattler, I am honored to have received this distinguished appointment by Governor DeSantis. I look forward to contributing to developing the University’s policies and programs to ensure they build upon the legacy of FAMU,” said White. WXTL. University of Florida Researcher Felipe Ferrao says Florida could become a global hub for coffee research. That’s why he’s leading studies into the caffeinated beverage and the plants that produce it. Main Street Daily News.

Opinions on schools: Should the state’s political leaders care what people in other states think of our education culture debates? Yes, and here’s why. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.

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BY Camille Knox