Crippling teacher shortage looms over Florida's business climate
An acute, and growing, shortage of K-12 teachers in Florida threatens to disrupt the state’s quality of education. That could have severe negative consequences for economic development in the years to come. Florida’s teacher shortage has hit critical levels, and the number of newly certified teachers entering the job market has not kept pace with the rate of educators leaving the field. [Source: Business Observer]
Florida Trend Exclusive
UF project focuses on converting oilseed to jet fuel
A promising University of Florida agricultural project in Northwest Florida is focused on producing an oilseed crop that can be converted into high-performance aviation jet fuel. The seed crop being grown near Quincy, about 30 miles northwest of Tallahassee, is the little-known Brassica carinata plant. "It is a non-food crop," says Sheeja George, project manager and agricultural scientist at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center. "But it is an oilseed crop that produces sustainable aviation fuel and renewable biodiesel.” [Source: Florida Trend]
Professor, student challenge controversial new law
A professor, a student and an organization at the University of South Florida have filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a new state law that restricts the way race-related concepts can be taught in classrooms — a law Gov. Ron DeSantis dubbed the “Stop WOKE Act.” The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Tallahassee, is at least the fourth challenge to the law, which also includes restrictions on how race-related issues can be addressed in workplace training. A judge last month issued a preliminary injunction against the workplace-training part of the law. [Source: News Service of Florida]
DeSantis puts his imprint on school board races in Florida
More than almost any other national figure, DeSantis has led the charge in turning culture war fights over anti-racism policies, sexuality and COVID-19 restrictions in schools into national issues. More recently, DeSantis has inserted himself into school board races as he seeks to expand his sphere of influence and animate conservatives while running for reelection and possibly considering a 2024 presidential bid. Of the 30 candidates endorsed by DeSantis in the Aug. 23 elections, 19 won, five lost and six are headed to runoffs. [Source: WINK]
Health officials continue to watch Florida's ongoing meningococcal outbreak now that college students are back on campus for the fall semester. They're considered an at-risk group. “We have an above-average number of cases of meningitis in Florida,” said Dr. Jill Roberts, Associate Professor at the USF College of Public Health. Florida’s meningococcal outbreak has been a problem for months. [Source: WFTS]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Free homework help for South Florida public school students available online [WPLG]
As kids across South Florida settle into their new school routines, there’s an inevitable part of “back to school” that every family deals with once the bell rings at the end of the day. Homework. Miami-Dade County Schools is offering free tutoring for students in K- 12 grade from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
› OCPS meeting with Florida Dept. of Education after grand jury finds potential safety violations [WESH]
The Orange County Public School district is one of four Florida districts just named in a grand jury's report that alleges possible safety violations. The more than 120-page document cites multiple incidents at campuses in Apopka. Advertisement District leaders are now being called to meet with the Department of Education over this.
› Foundation 451: Teacher's 'banned book drive' becomes a nonprofit [Florida Today]
A fundraiser that spawned thousands in donations — and some controversy — has morphed into a nonprofit organization. Adam Tritt, a teacher at Bayside High School, started a fundraiser in March so he could buy books challenged in Brevard and around the country and distribute them to students.
› Pasco teachers, support employees agree to biggest raises in years [Tampa Bay Times]
Pasco County school district employees will be getting the biggest pay raise they’ve seen in years as a result of a deal their representatives reached during negotiations Wednesday. Teachers are set to get an average raise of 5.4% under the agreement, which also increases the district’s minimum pay to $46,425. That’s still below the $47,500 that Gov. Ron DeSantis and lawmakers called for two years ago, but it’s an improvement on the $39,845 the district offered as a base pay before then.