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Florida's new edicts on schools keep changing, and locals are confused

Florida’s new edicts on schools keep changing, and locals are confused

Florida school district leaders say frustration is mounting as they try to enforce new education laws regarding gender issues, sex, library books and race. They say vaguely-written rules, changing directives and confusing guidance from state officials are hampering efforts to comply — even as potentially heavy penalties await them if they don’t. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

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» Florida's political climate and higher education policies are discouraging faculty

Florida temporarily suspends political ideology surveys on college campuses

After only one year, Florida has temporarily suspended a highly controversial, statewide survey required under a new state law compelling public colleges and universities annually to ask students and faculty to identify political bias in college classrooms. The executive vice chancellor of the Florida College System, Clifford Humphrey, confirmed that the mandatory “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” surveys were being suspended for 2023 and will be distributed again in the spring. [Source: Fresh Take Florida]

Critics question cost of Florida school vouchers

Interest in Florida’s private school voucher program is higher than ever, as evidenced by the latest award numbers released by scholarship funding organization Step Up For Students. While knowing more than 430,000 students have received vouchers is informative, some organizations say it would be more beneficial to have details about how many are using them, and where. Beyond that, the 31 groups led by Florida Policy Institute want specifics about what will happen if the demand outstrips the nearly $3 billion that lawmakers set for the program. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Florida System adopts the Classic Learning Test

The Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida voted Friday to accept the Classic Learning Test, a controversial standardized testing alternative to the SAT and ACT, on applications to its 12 campuses starting this fall. Florida is the first state higher education system to approve the exam, which focuses on the “classical” Western and Christian canon. Designed in 2015, it has so far been used mostly by Christian colleges and select private institutions like the conservative Hillsdale College and the classics-focused St. John’s College. [Source: Inside Higher Ed]

Student loan payments are back. What 2.7M Florida borrowers need to know.

It’s been a long time — 42 months to be precise — since federal student loan payments have been due, and a lot has changed. Your loan servicer may have changed in the interim, meaning you may need to make a new account and set up automatic payments again. There’s also a new repayment plan that could reduce your payments and offer new protections for missed payments as well as loan forgiveness for some borrowers. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]


› UF graduate student union could lose recognition under new law
A law from Florida’s legislative session puts unions — including UF’s collective for graduate students — at risk of losing legal recognition as early as next year. Senate Bill 256, also known as Employee Organizations Representing Public Employees, strips unions of legal recognition unless they reach 60% membership of all employees. The first part of the bill went into effect July 1, while membership quotas for union reinstatement go into effect Oct. 1.

› New Valencia College pantry aims to help students struggling to buy food
Valencia College students short of money and worried they cannot afford food can now shop for free at a new, on-campus food pantry designed to look like a small store and offer stigma-free shopping. The VCentials store replaces a smaller, closet-style pantry on Valencia’s west Orange County campus. It aims to deal with a sobering statistic: In a 2021 survey, 40% of Valencia’s students reported struggling to afford the food they needed. The new store, funded with a nearly $400,000 grant from Florida Blue, is a “dream come true,” said Valencia President Kathleen Plinske, as the college hosted the facility’s official opening Tuesday.

› Jacksonville University School of Law virtual preview
The Jacksonville University School of Law is offering a virtual information session 6-7 p.m. Sept. 14. Participants can learn more from an admissions counselor about the college, the Dolphin Juris Doctor degree program and the admission process. The law school will enroll its third cohort of 1L students in fall 2024.

› Osceola County ends automatic public library access for students over Florida education law
The Osceola County School Board decided to discontinue its OLL Access Pass program. Officials said the OLL Access Pass “automatically opted-in all K-12 students in the district and provided them with direct access to all the books, materials, and resources housed in the public library through their school libraries.”