Florida’s teachers face changing landscape

Photo of Florida Gov. DeSantis. Photo courtesy: tampabay.com

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis earlier this year persuaded lawmakers to enact legislation that restricts how teachers educate students in the state’s public schools and colleges.

Teachers can now be sued for making students feel uncomfortable.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Florida adopted several bills that impact how — and what — teachers do in the classroom.

One bill threatens public school teachers with the loss of state certification if they violate requirements of the state’s “don’t say gay” bill and “anti-woke legislation.”

Jireh Jones, an education major at Florida A&M, doesn’t know what to make of the changing rules governing teachers in Florida.

“As a future educator, it’s slightly intimidating to hear that there are restrictions being placed on the classroom. As teachers, it’s a part of the job to help shape the next citizens of this country  and the restrictions that are being placed limit what we can or cannot do,” Jones said. “To improve the school system, I believe the school should find better ways to test students than standardized testing. I would make sure I create a learning environment that allows students to tap into their creative abilities.”

Some see the new legislation as attacking the gay community and the LGBTQ+ community.

“In regard to teachers being sued for making students feel uncomfortable, I think that’s going way too far. There shouldn’t be a restraint to the information and history students are learning in the classroom. You can’t just give them information and expect them to accept it. They have questions, they are curious and we should help mold them into individual thinkers. School is a place for students to develop emotionally and socially, not just academically. Lastly, I wouldn’t do anything different in this profession, you learn as you go,” said Kaila Dunlap, a FAMU alumna and a teacher in Houston.

Under the new legislation, children will not be exposed to certain books that were previously housed in school libraries.

Teachers are also being told to avoid bringing up certain topics, depending on the grade they teach.

“As a retired English teacher, I believe good literature should make us feel uncomfortable. American history classes should make us feel uncomfortable. How could anyone learn about the hundreds of indigenous children removed from their families and forced into boarding schools and not be upset? Many of those children died. This should make us uncomfortable. So should slave auctions, Japanese internment camps, The My Lai massacre and the Comstock Act,” a retired English teacher told the Tallahassee Democrat.