Sunday, May 19, 2024

DeSantis signs Florida education reform bill with restrictions on book challenges | Tampa

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Gov. DeSantis Signs Bill Limiting Book Challenges and Expanding Charter School Takeovers

Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Tuesday that aims to limit challenges to school-library books and materials after more than 1,200 objections were filed last school year. The bill, known as HB 1285, also includes provisions to streamline the process of charter schools taking over operations at underperforming public schools.

The legislation comes after a surge in book objections in the past two years, with more than half of the objections in the 2022-2023 school year coming from just two counties, Clay and Escambia. These objections led to the removal of 186 books in those counties alone.

Under the new bill, residents who are not parents or guardians of students will be limited to objecting to one material per month. Governor DeSantis criticized those who filed mass objections, calling it a “mockery” of the process.

Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. praised the new limit on book challenges, saying it will help school districts review objections more efficiently. The bill also includes measures to expedite the process of converting traditional public schools to charter schools in cases where schools receive consecutive D or F grades.

Governor DeSantis emphasized the importance of swift action in turning around underperforming schools, citing a Pensacola school that was taken over by a charter operator after lagging in performance. The bill also introduces a “classical education teaching certificate” for teachers in classical charter schools.

Overall, the bill aims to address challenges in the education system and ensure that students receive a quality education. The signing of the bill marks a significant step towards improving Florida’s education system and providing better opportunities for students across the state.

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