February 24, 2024
School absenteeism has hit record levels in Florida, but rates vary across the state

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School absenteeism has hit record levels in Florida, but rates vary across the state

| 1/18/2024

School absenteeism has hit record levels in Florida, but rates vary across the state

The statewide average of the number of students missing 21 or more days of school has hit a record high at 20.9%, according to data from the Florida Department of Education from the 2021-22 school year. But the problem isn't evenly spread throughout Florida. In Santa Rosa County, just 13.8 percent of registered students missed 21 or more days of school, data shows. That’s below Escambia County’s 21.8 percent – which is slightly above the state average – and far below the state's highest absenteeism rate of 42.3% among students in rural Putnam County. [Source: Pensacola News Journal]

Florida education board votes to end diversity efforts at state colleges

Last fall, with little explanation, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. proposed removing sociology from the menu of courses university students can take to meet graduation requirements. On Wednesday, he spoke more clearly, suggesting that sociology studies could veer into “identity politics or theories,” in violation of a new state law. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

New state data reveals slight dip in Fla. teachers leaving, but reasons why vary

New data released by Florida’s Department of Education shows last year, the number of teachers who left the classroom was slightly down from record high resignations the year prior. While that is some good news, Florida investigative reporter Katie LaGrone found there are still serious concerns about what's really driving teachers out. [Source: WFTS]

Florida lawmakers want extra safeguards for neurodiverse kids in schools

Two Central Florida representatives have co-sponsored a bill that would put extra safeguards in place for students with special needs at risk of running away from school (referred to as elopement in the bill). Autistic students are nearly four times as likely as their non-autistic peers to try to leave school unattended. That’s according to the National Autism Association. [Source: WLRN]

Florida Virtual School spent $1 million-plus in tax dollars on federal lawsuit it lost

The Florida Virtual School lost a long-running trademark dispute that it spent more than $1 million to pursue when a federal judge ruled last week that it had shown “no credible evidence” that a competitor had infringed on trademarks or confused parents looking for virtual classes for their children. The virtual public school’s “prosecution of this lawsuit seems more akin to a ‘trademark bully’ harassing a competitor than a party seeking reasonable redress for any harm,” wrote Judge Gregory Presnell of the U.S. District Court in Orlando in his Jan. 2 order. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]


› Will culture wars resonate in school board races? A Pinellas test case.
Election 2024 season is upon us, with campaigns gearing up in school board races across Florida. Some national analysts have claimed the “anti-woke” culture wars movement has overplayed its hand, referring to election losses across the nation last year. Some groups intend to put that theory to the test in the Sunshine State, where Gov. Ron DeSantis has led the charge.

› New College of Florida faculty vote against college's online program with billionaire
New College of Florida faculty approved a resolution Wednesday afternoon expressing their disapproval of the recently announced online degree program in collaboration with billionaire GOP megadonor Joe Ricketts. The faculty approved the resolution in an overwhelming 25-1 vote, sources told the Herald-Tribune, citing a lack of consultation from the administration on its decision to launch the program. The vote appears to hold no impact on whether the college launches the program, but formally shows the group's position on the issue.

› UCF breaks ground on new nursing building in Lake Nona
University of Central Florida (UCF) officials celebrated the groundbreaking Friday of the new Lake Nona nursing building that will help the school educate more nurses at a time when the state badly needs them. Construction on the high-tech $68 million Dr. Phillips Nursing Pavilion is set to be completed fall 2025.

› More electric school buses are coming soon to Central Florida
Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) and Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) are two of four Florida public school districts recently selected for federal funding to buy electric school buses, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). OCPS gets $5 million to expand the district’s electric school bus program, after launching Florida’s first such program last year. SCPS gets $525,000 to buy more than 15 clean school buses for its growing fleet, according to the EPA.

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