Florida’s restrictive sex ed rules are causing back-to-school mayhem

“Thanks to a vague law and even vaguer directions from Florida’s education department, some school district leaders remain unsure if the course is even legal to teach. It’s a situation that highlights how difficult — and confusing — it has become for schools to navigate the state’s increasingly restrictive education policies.”

“Florida, the College Board declared, had “effectively banned AP Psychology.””

“Díaz sent a letter to district leaders on August 4 to clear things up. “The Department of Education is not discouraging districts from teaching AP Psychology,” it read. When district leaders asked for further clarification, Díaz responded in a follow-up letter on August 9 — just a day before the school year was set to begin in much of the state — insisting, “It is the Department of Education’s stance that [the] learning target … can be taught consistent with Florida law.” Díaz again rejected the assertion that the state had banned the course.”

“Districts have had to do a frenzied dance to keep up with the quick changes. One day, Mike Burke, Palm Beach County’s school chief, apologetically announced that he was removing AP Psych, stating, “If there was a way we could teach this course and not have our teachers get arrested, we would do it in a second,” according to the Palm Beach Post — and he reversed that decision just days later.
Other districts aren’t adding back AP Psychology, having already ordered textbooks for alternate courses, while some are refusing to re-adopt the course because they’re fearful that teachers could still face legal consequences. Meanwhile, some districts were prepared to just ignore the state’s mixed messages all along. “I have communicated to our staff to respect the law and follow the law, but not to fear the law and do more than it requires,” Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna said in a statement.

For many, however, the fear had already taken hold. Seven of the 11 districts with the largest enrollments in the course said they would make the switch to an alternative class, rushing to catch teachers up on the new material”

” A series of laws signed by Gov. DeSantis in the past two years have created significant challenges for educators. The laws, which critics call “classroom gag orders,” build on one another, creating a web of restrictions that educators must navigate to avoid legal consequences. The AP Psychology course could technically be considered illegal under three of the state’s restrictive education laws — the “Don’t Say Period” law, the “Don’t Say Gay” law, and the Stop WOKE Act, which bans schools and businesses from teaching anything that could make anyone feel “guilt, anguish or any form of psychological distress” because of their race, gender, sex, or national origin.”


By Trying To ‘Move On,’ DeSantis Admits His Fight With Disney Was a Political Stunt All Along

“The fact that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is now trying to back away from his fight with the Walt Disney Company should confirm at least one thing about the whole ugly mess.
It was never a principled fight against special privileges granted to a private company. It was a political stunt meant to raise DeSantis’ profile on the national stage.

That mission having been accomplished—and with the prospects of a legal battle against Disney looming—DeSantis told CNBC on Monday that he has “moved on” from the issue. He also encouraged Disney to “drop the lawsuit” that it filed in April against his administration.”

” it would be useful for reporters to ask DeSantis whether he would take similar actions against other businesses whose executives criticize his policies. Disney obviously has the power to fight back, but others might not be able to do so. Is DeSantis willing to admit he was wrong to retaliate against Disney? The answer would be instructive for voters weighing his candidacy for higher office.”

Florida’s drive to scrutinize what kids read is costing tens of thousands of dollars

“Florida school districts are spending tens of thousands of dollars to comply with a new state law that’s increased scrutiny — and removal — of books in K-12 school libraries.
The new law requires all campuses to digitally chronicle each book shelved and available for students in classroom libraries. Yet many schools, tight on staff with thousands of books to inventory, are outsourcing the arduous work of making all books searchable on local websites to a third-party company. Those services are costing districts between $34,000 to $135,000 annually, according to contracts reviewed by POLITICO.”

Florida has launched an “unparalleled” assault on higher education

“The bill also limits tenure protections for faculty members. Tenure is a lifetime academic appointment granted to professors who meet designated requirements and can be terminated only for cause or under extraordinary circumstances. Under the law, there must be a post-tenure review of state university faculty every five years to assess accomplishments and productivity, teaching duties, student evaluations, compensation, and potential improvement plans. Faculty members do not have the right to appeal grievances beyond the university president.
University presidents are now responsible for hiring, disciplining, and firing the school provost, deans, and full-time faculty. The law specifically instructs presidents to not be bound by the recommendations or opinions of faculty members when making hiring decisions. As part of their expanded role, presidents must also present yearly performance evaluations and salaries of any personnel earning more than $200,000 to the board of trustees.

Together, the law strengthens the powers of university leaders and weakens the autonomy of faculty members. The bill threatens academic freedom, according to AAUP, since it limits the teaching of certain topics in the general education curriculum and halts funding for DEI measures, among other limitations. Faculty told the AAUP that the laws are “Orwellian” and that Florida is a “canary in a coal mine.””

Florida’s Restrictions on Property Purchases by Chinese Citizens Hark Back to a Dark History of Xenophobia

“DeSantis wants us to believe that preventing a dietician, a property manager, or a professor from buying property in Florida, based purely on their national origin and non-immigrant status, somehow strikes a blow against “the Chinese Communist Party” and “crack[s] down on Communist China.” But it is hard to see why innocent people should suffer for the crimes of an oppressive regime they left behind.”

Federal judge rips into Florida’s ban on gender-affirming care for kids

“A federal judge delivered a stinging rebuke to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature over rules and a new state law that banned minors from receiving “puberty blockers” and other types of gender-affirming care.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle on Tuesday blocked the state from applying the ban to three minors whose parents are part of an ongoing lawsuit, saying they would “suffer irreparable harm” if they were not allowed to continue access to hormones and other types of treatment.”

“The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association support gender-affirming care for adults and adolescents. But medical experts said gender-affirming care for children rarely, if ever, includes surgery. Instead, doctors are more likely to recommend counseling, social transitioning and hormone replacement therapy.”

A guide to Ron DeSantis’s most extreme policies in Florida

“This legislative term, the governor and his fellow Republicans waged culture wars everywhere from the classroom to the bathroom to Disney World, making the state a pioneer of some of the most extreme right-wing policies in the US.
DeSantis’s legislative agenda in Florida — which he has framed as a “blueprint” for America — has targeted immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, Black Americans, and women, as well as the corporations who come to their defense. And state lawmakers have advanced DeSantis’s own political career at the expense of transparency and accountability. That’s all been done in the name of wooing an activist GOP base, which still loves former President Donald Trump and has given him a historically large lead in Republican primary polls.”

“DeSantis signed a law that imposes felony penalties on health care workers who provide gender-affirming care for minors. The law includes a unique provision that could allow some parents to ask Florida courts to override other states’ custody decisions for children receiving gender-affirming care, though it only applies to a narrow set of circumstances. Advocates are challenging parts of the law on an emergency basis in court, arguing that it violates parents’ fundamental rights to make medical decisions for their children and that it violates the Constitution by discriminating against transgender children.”

“Bathroom bill: DeSantis has made it illegal for Floridians to use bathrooms and changing facilities that don’t correspond with their sex at birth.”

“Gender identity: Florida expanded DeSantis’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law to place additional restrictions on the teaching of “human sexuality” through high school and to require that schools promote abstinence from sex outside of marriage and monogamous heterosexual marriage. That law also prevents schools from requiring that teachers use pronouns that align with their students’ gender identity and declares that it is “false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.””

“Drag shows: He also signed a law that bars establishments from allowing minors to watch an “adult live performance” that “depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities.” Though the law is intended to target drag shows, many drag shows do not include any such content.”

“The legislature has approved a bill that bars most abortions after six weeks, with some exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. In cases of rape and incest, a person would have to provide documentation like a restraining order in order to obtain an abortion up to 15 weeks. The legislation would penalize physicians who knowingly violate its parameters with potential fines or jail time. The policy won’t take effect until the state’s Supreme Court makes a decision on its existing 15-week abortion ban.”

“One new law bars public colleges and universities from funding efforts that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, also known as DEI. DEI programming typically examines disparities and focuses on how marginalized groups can be better represented in staffing or curriculum. Opponents of the law worry that it could drive away students and faculty, while supporters argue that such programs are used to quell dissent.”

“A new policy also bans the state’s public colleges and universities from offering general education courses about “identity politics” and the idea that “systemic racism” is “inherent in the institutions of the United States.” This law expands restrictions DeSantis previously pushed in the K-12 system to higher education.”

“The legislature amplified the state’s efforts at book banning, with a new law that mandates that certain books can be pulled from school shelves for review within five days of a person flagging it as concerning. At least one Florida school district has already faced a lawsuit over its approach to book banning due to concerns that it violates free speech rights.”

“There has been $12 million allocated for flights that DeSantis can use to transport migrants from Florida to other states. DeSantis gained national attention for flying migrants from San Antonio, Texas to Martha’s Vineyard; and now faces a lawsuit over that stunt.”

“DeSantis signed a law nullifying an agreement that would have allowed Disney to continue to develop and maintain its theme parks in Florida with relative independence. Disney consequently sued DeSantis for waging a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power” over the company. It’s part of a long-running feud between the governor and Disney, which started when company executives spoke out last year against what critics call Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans classroom discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation.”

“DeSantis signed a law eliminating the requirements to report where he goes and who he meets with in an official capacity, insulating him from public scrutiny as he launches his presidential campaign.”

“DeSantis signed a law that relaxes campaign finance reporting requirements for state political committees, which currently disclose their fundraising figures monthly. That applies to DeSantis’s state political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, which reported about $86 million cash on hand as of the end of April.”

“the bill introduces new fines for outside voter registration groups and requires they provide a receipt when they help someone fill out a voter registration application — a measure that Democrats say could have a chilling effect on minority voters who tend to register through these groups.”

Florida Legislature Passes Immigration Crackdown, Authorizes $12 Million for Migrant Relocation

“Among the more controversial measures is a section authorizing another $12 million for the “Unauthorized Alien Transport Program,” which will fund stunts like last September’s migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Notably, it’ll authorize transport “within the United States”—nothing saying that relocation must begin in Florida, or even involve migrants present in the state.

The bill’s more mundane measures will affect far more people, however. Under S.B. 1718, private businesses with 25 or more employees will be required to use the federal E-Verify system to ensure that workers may legally work in the country. Once a business learns that an employee is unauthorized to work, it must fire him or her. Multiple violations in a 24-month period may result in the suspension of state-issued business licenses. Businesses may also lose their licenses based on the number of unauthorized people they employ: Employing between one and 10 will lead to a suspension of up to 30 days, escalating to full “revocation of all applicable licenses” for employing more than 50 unauthorized people.”