The above photo was copied from the Anti-Defamation League website. They are an organization that helps educate and fight discrimination. A quote from an Anti-Defamation League article:
"Today’s students are exposed to increased anti-Semitic and bias-motivated incidents. It is vital to inculcate them with one of the important lessons of the Holocaust – that they should strive to be allies to each other, and never remain silent in the face of contemporary bigotry."
Did you know that all publicly funded schools are not required to obey the following two Florida statutes dealing with nondiscrimination and tolerance?
Excerpt from F.S. 1003.42 (g)—I will refer to this as the tolerance statute:.
[a required course that will teach] …… the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping, and an examination of what it means to be a responsible and respectful person, for the purposes of encouraging tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society and for nurturing and protecting democratic values and institutions.
Excerpt from F. S. 1000.05—I will refer to this as the nondiscrimination statute:
Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, religion, or marital status against a student or an employee in the state system of public K-20 education is prohibited.
Hate crimes have been associated with attacks on homosexuals and people who identify as a gender other than the one assigned them at birth. Sexual orientation and gender identity should be added to the nondiscrimination statute to make it clear. There is the argument that gender identity and sexual orientation are already included under the “gender” category, but it should be made clearer in my view.
There are two bills before our Florida Senate (with companion bills in the House) that will require that the above statutes--1000.05 and 1003.42(g)--apply to all schools receiving public funds:
• Senate Bill 184 (companion House Bill 91)—I’ll refer to this as the tolerance bill.
• SB 56 (HB 45)—I’ll refer to this as the nondiscrimination bill.
Our state Constitution requires free public schools for the children of Florida, but our elected officials are not consistent with what they mean by “public schools.” Charter schools and private schools receiving voucher money are only sometimes included in the definition even though Governor DeSantis said any school receiving public funds is a public school.
Many of our laws defined the rules for “public schools” at a time when the term meant only the neighborhood schools. If a school receiving public funds isn’t required to follow the same rules as another type of school receiving public funds, we need to know why.
• If the laws aren’t necessary, then why do the neighborhood schools have to follow them?
• If the laws are necessary, then why don’t all publicly funded schools have to follow them?
The organization that administers Florida’s growing array of voucher programs — Step Up For Students — insists it doesn’t want private schools to discriminate against minority groups but claims they have no legal basis to deny private schools voucher money. The nondiscrimination bill (SB 56) will give them the legal basis to deny voucher money according to the same nondiscrimination rules neighborhood schools are following.
Florida Senator Darryl Rouson introduced the nondiscrimination bill to prohibit private schools, which participate in the state’s voucher programs, from discriminating against the minorities mentioned in the nondiscrimination statute. A Florida statute— 1002.33 (16)—already demands charter schools follow the nondiscrimination statute. In other words, the nondiscrimination bill will make it so all publicly funded schools must follow the nondiscrimination statute.
Florida Education Commissioner Corcoran—a rabid supporter of charter schools and publicly funded vouchers for private schools—showed his support for the teaching of tolerance and nondiscrimination in his letter to a superintendent: "For my part, I intend to exercise all avenues afforded to me through Florida statutes and rules to investigate and act. I will swiftly, and to the limits of my office and resources, investigate and prosecute any individuals who threaten the equity and cultural sensitivity of the educational experience of our public schools."
The term "public schools" as used in the Florida Education Commissioner’s letter has become blurred with the proliferation of taxpayer money funding charter schools and private schools. His letter was concerning the tolerance statute—1003.42 (g)— which currently only applies to the district-run schools, i.e. not to the charter schools or the private schools receiving voucher money.
The tolerance bill (SB 184) will require any school receiving public funds to follow the tolerance statute. In addition, the bill gives clearer guidelines as to how the statute should be implemented.
I am suggesting you need to speak up and let your elected officials know you want them to pass SB 184 and SB 56 in the Senate and their identical companion bills in the House. If the legislators are going to continue to use your tax dollars to fund charter schools and private schools, then those schools need to follow the same nondiscrimination laws that neighborhood schools must follow.
The nondiscrimination laws should apply to all publicly funded schools.
References and suggestions for further reading
** Article IX in Florida’s Constitution
Excerpt: The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education
**Florida Education Commissioner Corcoran's letter to the superintendent:
**Articles about the courses the Anti-Defamation League is teaching:
Quote from article: “The medical community has long concluded that homosexuality is largely genetically-driven, not a matter of choice.”
**HB 741 (Antisemitism) passed last legislative session unanimously. The discussion of the bill included the 1994 statute 1003.42(g). HB 741 also added religion to the list in 1000.05. https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00741
**Florida’s Tax Credit Scheme allows some businesses to divert dollar for dollar their tax liability money to a private school. Read more: https://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2019/02/15/gov-ron-desantis-reveals-plan-to-eliminate-scholarship-wait-list/
**More about SB 184: https://www.gainesville.com/opinion/20190917/editorial-expand-study-of-holocaust-to-all-schools
*** Quote from MOSH curator Paul Bourcie:
“…We're seeing domestic terrorism happening to all kinds of people branded as the Other. We see systems in place that put certain communities at a disadvantage. Can it be that we're looking at something systemic that hearkens back to the racial violence of the past?”