It’s now 8 years retired …
38 teaching our precious children…
I am still holding onto hope for their future…
For Those Who Care About Educating "Our Children" for their future's success…
It’s now 8 years retired …
38 teaching our precious children…
I am still holding onto hope for their future…
By: Stephanie Susskind
Posted at 5:01 PM, May 25, 2023 and last updated 2023-05-25 17:01:56-04
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. —
Retired almost nine years from my thirty-eight year, Florida teaching career…
From my own personal experience here in Florida; We must be extremely concerned… Governor Ron DeSantis most definitely is not a unifier…He promotes such a polarizing agenda only for his benefit…He is an ill equipped governor…
He does not care about all the dangerous repercussions on our precious children …
We must be extremely aware and not allow him to become our next president!!
With Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis officially in the race for president, WPTV is taking a deeper look at his education policies — some of which have been his most controversial — to see how they would stack up nationally.
Restricting discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity and targeting critical race theory are just some of what DeSantis would call his victories over the past few years.
But not everyone would agree…
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education
“We’ve had a few decades now of fundamental changes in education in Florida, but no one has moved as hard or as fast as Ron DeSantis,” WPTV political analyst Brian Crowley said.
Crowley said the two-term Republican governor is known across the country for his aggressive approach to education reform…
“Ron DeSantis made it clear that if he becomes president, he plans to bring these reforms nationwide,” Crowley said. “Use the power of the federal dollar, federal grants, and even accreditation of colleges as a way of enforcing his agenda for how he wants to make schools more conservative and, in his view, back to basic learning.”
Some of DeSantis’ decisions have been celebrated across party lines, like eliminating Common Core standards…
But the culture wars have caused a divide.
“When you vilify teachers and staff, when you limit their ability to do what they know is best for students, they’re not going to stay,” said Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association.
Spar said much of the contentious legislation in Florida is leading to a critical teacher shortage.
But Moms For Liberty member Jennifer Pippin supports the governor’s moves.
“This is great for education. It’s great for parental rights,” Pippin said. “I absolutely think he will take his policies and the things he’s been advocating for nationwide.”
But will it work?
The non-profit free speech organization PEN America researched what it called “educational gag orders” in August of 2022, looking at legislative efforts to restrict teaching certain topics.
The study showed 36 different states introduced 137 of these bills in 2022. But only six states passed them….
“There’s some really huge changes underway, and I think in some of those states that are very cautious about those changes, Ron DeSantis is going to have to be very careful if he wins the nomination to bring those people to his side,” Crowley said.
And decide what direction they want for our nation’s schools.
“We’re suddenly hearing Donald Trump talk a little bit more about the anti-woke issues and other conservative issues that were not big on his agenda when he first ran, or when he ran in 2020,” Crowley said. “But he understands this is a hot button issue among hardcore conservatives.”
Back when I was getting ready for retirement… summer of 2014, Florida was heading in crisis… Reflecting back then….
My first thought, this year especially, is acknowledging how exhausted I am; All the extra demands of testing and keeping up the pace of a more challenging curriculum…While striving to keep the children motivated and engaged…
I do also worry how my children spend their summer’s free time…
Throughout the school year, I spent my teaching time encouraging them the “love of reading”; encouraging parents to take their child to the public library…And now with this extra time, I so do hope my parents “if” they have the time in their challenging lives… to take their child to the public library… to become the owner of their personal library card, that will open up their “World” to all the joys of the Public Library; Summer Programs..Movies…Reading Books…And free Computer time!
There’s definitely a loss of our precious children’s innocence…
Teacher shortages due to lack of pay and authoritarian policies
Lack of inclusion
Funding our public schools…with critical mental health and free meal resources…
Gun safety reform…
This summer must be that time for reflection…And begin this critical moment for change…Our public schools must be strong and vital…To survive and thrive!!
A child can teach an adult three things:
To be happy for no reason
To always be curious
To fight tirelessly for something…
❤️- Paulo Coelho
Our precious children…
My May Wish…
At the end of each day before you close your eyes, be content with what you’ve done,
Be grateful for what you have
And be proud of who you are…
❤️Fb/Hugs and kisses
Our precious children…
Don’t just tell your children about the world, show them…
Our precious children…
Florida sees new deluge of legislation targeting trans rights and controlling public education as governor steps up courtship of Trump voters…
Ron DeSantis is highlighting his crusade to ‘reform’ public education. Illustration: Mark Harris/The Guardian
by Joseph Contreras in Florida
Thu 13 Apr 2023
No public school teacher or college professor in Florida has been more outspoken in his criticism of Governor Ron DeSantis than Don Falls…
In the spring of 2022, the 62-year-old social studies high school teacher became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the governor to block enforcement of the recently approved Stop Woke (Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees) Act…
The DeSantis-backed legislation banned the supposed teaching of critical race theory – a scholarly examination of how social conceptions of race influence laws, political movements and history – in the Sunshine state’s public schools and universities. When Falls heard that a Jacksonville law firm was drafting litigation to stop the new law from taking effect, the grandfather of five decided to raise his head above the proverbial parapet.
“One thing I’ve taught my students is that there are certain fundamental values associated with a democracy, and if they’re going to work, you’ve got to stand up for them,” recalled Falls, who has taught for 38 years. “I couldn’t have taught that to my students and then, when the ball was in my court, pass it on to somebody else.”
In his first year as Florida’s chief executive, DeSantis raised public school teachers’ salaries and paid tribute to the mostly gay, lesbian and transgender victims of one of the country’s most deadly mass shootings in recent times. But as he built his national profile, attracting attention for his controversial views on masks and vaccines during the Covid-19 pandemic, he took a sharp swing to the right and stepped up his courtship of the party’s Trump-loving base.
Now, with rumors he is close to launching his presidential bid, DeSantis is highlighting his crusade to “reform” public education in Florida and restrict the rights and freedoms of the state’s transgender population as centerpieces of a nationwide agenda for what he calls “America’s revival”.
Last year, DeSantis and his Republican allies went further and rammed house bill 1467 through the state legislature, requiring all reading material used in public schools to be reviewed by a “trained media specialist” to ensure that the material be “free of pornography” and “appropriate for the age level and group”. Critics say it empowers conservative groups to ban books whose contents they disagree with, even if they are age appropriate.
Falls continued to resist. Confronted with a choice of either removing the estimated 250 to 300 books in his classroom or submitting them to the vetting process, he and other colleagues at the school opted to conceal their covers by enveloping them in plain brown paper, thereby shielding themselves from possible criminal prosecution or civil liability.
He posted a wryly written sign inside his classroom that read: “closed by order of the governor”.
On 23 February hundreds of college students walked out of their classrooms at six public universities to protest against DeSantis’s decision to abolish diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs and policies that had been mandated in 2020 in all of Florida’s dozen institutions of higher education by other political appointees, including the former governor Rick Scott.
Demonstrations were also held in early March to denounce HB 999, legislation that would eliminate college majors and minors in “critical race theory, gender studies or intersectionality”, render a professor’s tenure subject to review at any time, and require colleges to offer general education courses that “promote the philosophical underpinnings of Western civilization and include studies of this nation’s historical documents”. It would also formally outlaw spending on DEI programs, which seek to promote the participation and fair treatment of people from all walks of life.
“We’re seeing more and more students who, emboldened by some faculty members, shout people down and shut down viewpoints they don’t agree with,” the chief sponsor of the legislation, state representative Alex Andrade, told the Guardian. “People are forgetting that public universities are a component of a state government’s executive branch, and when we’re trying to encourage and enforce discrimination in the name of diversity and equity, we’re getting it wrong.”
The sweeping scope of that legislation, coupled with three other education bills that would, among other things, forbid school staff and students from using “pronouns that do not correspond with a person’s sex”, has left educators in Florida feeling incensed and dumbfounded…
“There aren’t actually any majors in critical race theory or intersectionality,” noted Andrew Gothard, an English instructor at Florida Atlantic University and president of United Faculty of Florida, the union that represents more than 25,000 faculty members in the Sunshine state’s dozen public universities and 16 state and community colleges. “The goal is to eliminate all thought that diverges from the governor’s political platform, and it’s absolutely terrifying.
“Any time you’re telling people they can only teach history in a way that praises the motherland, you’re straying into Hitler Youth territory.”
Multiple requests from the Guardian for an interview with Governor DeSantis went unanswered. But in a recent statement, DeSantis defended HB 999 because it seeks to push back “against the tactics of liberal elites who suppress free thought in the name of identity politics and indoctrination”.
DeSantis called a press conference on 8 March to debunk what he termed “the ‘book ban’ hoax” in relation to the Stop Woke Act, asserting that books containing pornographic content and other kinds of violent or age-inappropriate content had been discovered in libraries and classrooms in 23 school districts statewide. These included Maia Kobabe’s widely acclaimed Gender Queer: A Memoir, one of 10 books that received an Alex Award from the American Library Association in 2020 for having “special appeal for young adults ages 12 through 18”…
“Our mantra in Florida has been education, not indoctrination,” DeSantis wrote in his recent memoir, The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival. He hailed Florida as one of the first states to enact a parents’ bill of rights, which in his telling guarantees mothers and fathers “the right to inspect the materials being used in their kids’ schools”.
Yet DeSantis also omits any reference to the state’s grossly underpaid public school teachers, who rank 48th nationwide in average salaries according to the National Education Association…
Another target of the 44-year-old governor is the state’s LGBTQ+ community and, in particular, the transgender population. A new bill, house bill 1421, titled “Gender Clinical Interventions”, would prohibit transgender individuals from amending their own birth certificates and eliminate transition-related care such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers for minors.
The chief sponsor of the bill, state representative Randy Fine, tweeted in March that the legislation would outlaw the “butchering of children” and free Florida taxpayers from having to subsidize “the sexual mutilation of adults”. In reality gender-confirming surgical procedures are seen as lifesaving, and are mostly offered to teenagers who are at least 15 years of age or older. Even among this group such operations are “exceedingly rare”, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Not to be outdone, state senator Clay Yarborough introduced senate bill 254 that would allow the state to take temporary custody of children who may be receiving gender-affirming care now or in the future. (Yarborough declined the Guardian’s request for an interview.)
The barrage of bills focusing on transgender people is part of a broader onslaught by far-right thinktanks and consultants on democracy, abortion rights and racial progress, according to Nadine Smith, a co-founder and executive director of Equality Florida, an LGBTQ+ community rights organization.
“It’s not surprising to see this slate of hate introduced,” said Smith. “This rightwing shift has everything to do with usurping Trump on the right in the forthcoming Republican presidential primary elections. DeSantis is not driven by convictions or a core set of values, he is driven only by ambition and his desperation to become president.”
The civil rights advocate remembers a different Ron DeSantis four years ago. Elected governor for the first time in 2018 by a razor-thin margin of about 32,000 votes, the former congressman and co-founder of the rightwing House Freedom Caucus gravitated towards the center-right during his early time in office.
DeSantis issued a proclamation on the third anniversary of the 2016 mass shooting in an Orlando gay nightclub that paid tribute to the 49 people who died but failed to mention the targeting of the LGBTQ+ community as a possible motive of the killer.
The governor came under fire for that omission and reissued the proclamation with amended wording. He even met with a survivor of the shooting and other members of the city’s LGBTQ+ community as a sign of solidarity.
“The DeSantis we are seeing now doesn’t sound like the DeSantis who ran for governor the first time,” said Smith. “He went from being someone who went to the Pulse nightclub and responded to the criticism to someone who routinely calls LGBTQ+ people groomers and incites violence towards us.”
The number of anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrations in Florida has soared in recent months. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) project documented 17 such episodes during 2022, up sharply from the six that the organization chronicled in 2021 and the five that were recorded in 2020. Some degenerated into riots. Nationwide, Florida ranked third in these incidents, surpassed only by California and Texas.
Members of the state’s transgender population say they are feeling the intensifying heat…
Morganti (not his real name) moved to the Gulf coast city of Bradenton from Louisiana in 2016. The 35-year-old New College of Florida student still identified as a woman at the time, and struck up a relationship with a local woman. “She and I could hold hands walking through a shopping mall, and when I first came down here it wasn’t a big deal,” said the third-year marine biology major.
But the bearded trans man has noticed a palpable change in the political climate during the intervening six years. No violent confrontation has occurred to date, but he has dealt with comments about his voice and body.
The hostile takeover of New College by six of DeSantis’s rightwing allies on its board of trustees earlier this year has not helped matters, and Morganti says he will move abroad to obtain his master’s degree once he has finished his undergraduate studies in January 2025…
“If Ron DeSantis doesn’t make it to the White House, he will still be our governor – and that means Florida isn’t going to be a safe place to live in,” he said.
The young people of today… Generation Z, are becoming extremely vocal in the needed changes to gun reform, since the adults in the room are doing absolutely nothing!!!
Kamala Harris praises courage of ‘Tennessee Three’ on visit to Nashville | Kamala Harris | The Guardian
Becca Andrews in Nashville, Tennessee
Sat 8 Apr 2023 09.58 EDT
About 500 people packed the chapel at Fisk University, a historically Black college in Nashville, Tennessee, and sang the civil rights anthem This Little Light of Mine while they waited for US vice-president Kamala Harris to appear. When she did, the crowd erupted in cheers.
Harris and her listeners were there to show support for her fellow Democrats and state lawmakers Justin Jones, Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson – Jones and Pearson were ousted from the Republican-controlled Tennessee house of representatives after joining a protest in favor of gun control at the capitol in Nashville, and Johnson narrowly survived an expulsion vote.
“We are here because [Jones, Pearson and Johnson] and their colleagues in the Democratic caucus chose to show courage in the face of extreme tragedy,” Harris said, alluding to how the targeted representatives stood with gun control advocates after the killings of three students and three staffers at the Covenant elementary school in Nashville on 27 March. “They chose to lead and show courage and say that a democracy allows for places where the people’s voice will be heard and honored and respected.”
The vice-president said they also added another chapter to a vibrant local history of civil rights activism that previously saw sit-ins at segregated lunch counters led by the late US congressman John Lewis and his movement colleague Diane Nash, saying it was on their “broad shoulders upon which we all stand”.
Harris’s visit punctuated a dramatic week for the so-called “Tennessee Three”, who faced expulsion proceedings after talking without being given the floor by the Republican house speaker Cameron Sexton. Johnson, Jones and Pearson said they spoke out in that manner because capitol staff had cut their microphones off when they attempted to bring up gun control and regulation efforts in response to the shooting deaths at Covenant…
Jones and Pearson led chants from protesters in favor of their proposed measures with a bullhorn while Johnson stood by them silently in solidarity.
Their colleagues then drew up papers to expel all three from the seats in the chamber to which they were democratically elected. Votes on Thursday left Jones and Pearson – two Black men and the house’s youngest members – ousted while Johnson, a 60-year-old white woman, managed to keep her seat by a single vote…
Such expulsions are exceedingly rare even in today’s ultra-divided political climate, and they are generally used against lawmakers accused of misconduct more serious than a decorum breach. For instance, the body had previously expelled one lawmaker accused of spending federal nursing school grant money on a wedding and another who allegedly had improper sexual contact with more than 20 women in four years in office. Meanwhile, the state legislature opted against expelling a Republican representative accused of sexual misconduct in 2019.
County commissions in Jones and Pearson’s districts are now set to pick someone to serve in the newly vacant seats until special elections can be held. Jones and Pearson remain eligible to run in those special elections and could also possibly be appointed by the county commissions to stay in their seats until those contests, though the commissions are reportedly facing pressure to choose interim replacements.
To be sure, Jones and Pearson’s expulsions have given both men significant national platforms. In addition to Harris’s remarks, Joe Biden met with them and Johnson virtually. The president tweeted a photo of the meeting, saying: “Our country needs to take action on gun violence – to do that we need more voices like theirs speaking out.”
The chapel was warmly receptive to the vice-president, responding to her statements with the sort of affirmations that are familiar in the halls of Black churches.
“Some things are up for partisan debate,” she said. “Sure. But regarding the issue of gun safety laws, background checks, the policy is really pretty straightforward.”
“Facts!” someone shouted from one of the pews…
“Assault weapons … are weapons of war,” Harris continued. “These are weapons that are designed to kill a lot of people quickly. They have no place on the streets of a civil society.”
Murmurs of “amen”, and “I know that’s right”, moved through the crowd.
Young Black women – Fisk students – lined the aisles of the chapel wearing pearls and bright pink-and-green apparel signifying their association with the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority of which Harris is also a member. One of them, Kayla Willis, told the Guardian it was “an honor to see our legacy as a sorority and also as a Black-founded organization to be put at the forefront, especially in this political climate”.
Willis is a senior studying political science and Spanish, and she said she was deeply disappointed with the expulsion of representatives Jones and Pearson. Still, the turnout, the speeches from local activists and officials, and Harris’s appearance lifted her spirits…
State representative Torrey Harris – who, like Pearson, is a Black Democrat representing Memphis – was similarly affected. He noted how he was the legislature’s youngest member after the expulsions which targeted two men whom he referred to as “brothers” and people whom he had “grown to love”.
Harris said he had no doubt race factored into Jones and Pearson’s expulsions as well as the more favorable outcome for Johnson.
“We have to be honest and transparent that race plays a huge part in a lot of the decision-making that happens not only in this state, but in other states,” Harris said. “To cut off somebody else’s belief and ability to fight for their people is wrong. We live in a country that is built on democracy, and I would hope that we will one day get back to that place.”
Our precious children need to be a priority…
Love… Innocence… Safety…Education…
Lord, I can’t say it in words…
Can you please just listen through my heart…