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Gov. Ron DeSantis signs slate of education bills, including TikTok ban

'If you don't have a good teacher in the classroom, then you're not going to have kids perform up to their expectations,' DeSantis says
Posted at 6:07 PM, May 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-09 18:07:33-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — TikTok’s time may be coming to an end in Florida's public schools.

Tuesday morning, the governor signed a K-12 ban on the social media app, plus policies giving teachers more money and control of their classrooms. But there was also legislation opponents called a "union buster."

At a Miami charter school, Gov. Ron DeSantis' put his name on the five bills, which made up a big chunk of his education goals for the year.

HB 379 was among them, giving Florida's public teachers the power to ban cellphone use during class time. It knocks social media sites like TikTok off district devices — including web servers. The bill also requires teachers to educate students on social media dangers.

"As a mom, I'm particularly grateful for the governor and Legislature's focus on getting social media out of the classroom and giving teachers the benefit of the doubt when maintaining safety in the classroom," Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez said in a statement. "This is a clear recognition that the voices and concerns of Florida's teachers were heard and addressed in the 2023 session."

DeSantis also signed legislation shortening school board term limits from 12 to eight consecutive years.

He approved his "teacher's bill of rights" which, among its numerous provisions, gives educators more authority over rowdy classrooms. Plus, the Republican said he supports another pay bump for educators in the state budget. It'll be a quarter billion over last year's allotment.

"You can put money into a school," DeSantis said. "You can have good standards. You can have all that. But if you don't have a good teacher in the classroom, then you're not going to have kids perform up to their expectations."

Most of those policies got wide bi-partisan support during the legislative session. SB 256, perhaps the most controversial policy signed Tuesday, did not.

Considered a "union buster" by Florida's teacher's union, the new law forbids auto withdrawal of union dues from paychecks, increases the threshold of employees needed to form or maintain a union, and requires annual audits.

"It feels like over the last five, six decades the Florida Legislature has constantly eroded the right to collectively bargain," Frank Peterman with the Florida Education Association said.

In a press release later in the day, FEA's president suggested litigation could be coming as soon as this week.

"This new law grossly oversteps in trying to silence teachers, staff, professors, and most other public employees," Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, said. "We will not go quietly — our students and our professions are simply too important."

The FEA said it would offer all of its concerns and the details of a potential lawsuit in a news conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday.