In the middle of the school year, Florida is currently experiencing a shortage of at least 4,000 teachers, as reported by the Florida Education Association (FEA) in January. FEA President Andrew Spar states in the report that teachers are leaving the state or the teaching profession altogether because of inadequate salaries and unbearable working conditions caused by poor policy decisions. Despite previous attempts, the Florida legislature has presented a new bill aimed at teachers, this time specifically focusing on teacher preparation courses. The bill, known as HB 1291, extends the speech restrictions outlined in the “Stop WOKE Act” of 2022 to teacher training programs. This has caused Equality Florida to dub HB 1291 the “Stop WOKE Teacher Training bill.” The sponsors gave it a more mundane title, “An act related to educator preparation programs,” which Kara Gross, Legislative Director and Senior Policy Counsel at the ACLU of Florida, believes is intended to obscure its true purpose and make it difficult for the public to stay informed. Always stay in tune. Sign up for our daily newsletter to stay informed on the latest LGBTQ+ political developments. HB 1291 aims to prohibit the Florida Department of Education from endorsing teacher training programs that misrepresent important historical events, promote identity politics, violate the Stop WOKE Act guidelines, or advocate theories of systemic oppression and privilege within American institutions. In response to the question of how to determine what constitutes distorting an event or a significant historical event under HB 1291, the ACLU’s Kara Gross found the ambiguity in the bill amusing and pointed out the problem with the language. There is no way to predict which speech will be considered restricted under the bill.
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