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Governor DeSantis Vetoes Civic Education Bil

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(Jon Raedle/Getty Images)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed the civic literacy education bill, SB 146, that received unanimous bipartisan support in the State’s House and Senate.

What We Know:

  • After signing previous legislation last week intending to improve civic literacy, many of his fellow Republicans were shocked when DeSantis’ veto statement was released. In the statement, DeSantis said, “The proposed bill seeks to further so-called ‘action civics’ but does so in a way that risks promoting the preferred orthodoxy of two particular institutions.” Senator Jeff Brandes responded that he has no idea what that statement is supposed to mean and believes it to be purposefully vague.
  • The bill’s design was to increase the opportunity for civic engagement by involving youth in more aspects of society, government, and the political system. Primarily, it would have taken a pre-existing program at the University of Southern Florida (USF) called the Civic Fellow Program for high school students and established a new program that incorporated college credit for participation. Christina Pushaw, a spokesperson for DeSantis, said he feared the bill would bring political indoctrination and activism into classrooms.
  • Some of the wording used in DeSantis’ statement has caused people to believe he is referencing a National Review article that called for him to veto SB 146. The piece warned that the bill would allow Critical Race Theory to find its way back into school curriculums.

“I think this is part of a larger political agenda to demonize our universities, demonize education…I’m stunned and saddened by that. I think his veto really undermines public confidence in government and elected leaders’ ability to do what’s right for the people they serve,” responded Representative Ben Diamond, who sponsored SB 146 in the House.

  • The Civic Fellow Program began at USF in 2016. It has been a partnership between the university and the Florida YMCA with significant input from the state legislature. The intention was to give young individuals a way to understand how to tackle problems in their own communities. Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan, a USF political science professor and founding director of the program, stated, “Our approach has always been to be bipartisan, to be exposing students to a variety of viewpoints. There’s workshops on communication and working with people from different views.”

Thankfully the funding for the Civic Fellow Program remains intact despite DeSantis’ veto.

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Crime

Classes canceled at Howard University as US Government investigates ransomware cyberattack

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Howard University officials along with leading cyber experts are trying to assess what has been compromised in an active ransomware, cyberattack on the HBCU campus. Officials have deemed the attack criminal.

What We Know:

  • Monday, the university issued a statement to faculty and students that “the service disruption was caused by a ransomware cyberattack against the university.”
  • Classes have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Students have been notified that online and hybrid classes will remain canceled and only essential staff will be allowed on campus. All in-person undergraduate, graduate, professional, and clinical experiential courses will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.
  • A ransomware attack can be triggered by simple, everyday activity. Opening a unintended link inside of can lead to a cyberattack.  Computer, tablet and phone users are encouraged to change their passwords and security questions regularly.

Howard University is home to several notable high profile Black alumni such as Chadwick Boseman and Phylicia Rashad.

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Education

Howard University installs Chadwick Boseman’s name on College of Fine Arts building

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The “Black Panther” star is seen as an “icon in his own right who has left an immeasurable legacy for the next generation,” the university said.

What We Know:

“Yesterday, the letters were installed over the now official Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts,” the school said in a tweet Friday. “An icon in his own right who has left an immeasurable legacy for the next generation. Thank you Mr. Boseman.”

  • Howard University first announced in May that it would rename its performing and visual arts school after the ‘Black Panther’ star who also happens to be an alumnus of the school.
  • Boseman graduated from Howard in 2000 with a bachelor of arts degree in directing. During his time at the school, Boseman led a student protest against the absorption of the College of Fine Arts into the larger College of Arts & Sciences, according to the university.

In 2018, the year Boseman rocketed to international fame as King T’Challa in the Marvel cinematic universe, the university announced that its performing and visual arts school would return to its independent status.

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Education

Education Department Will Erase $5.8 Billion in Loans For Borrowers With Disabilities

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The Department of Education (DOE) announced it would eliminate the outstanding loans of over 32,000 borrowers with significant, permanent disabilities. It will also remove barriers that block future students from qualifying for this relief.

What We Know:

  • The DOE’s declaration erases approximately $5.8 million in debt. In addition, NPR writes that it symbolizes a “significant step” toward improving a “troubled debt relief program meant to help borrowers with disabilities.” U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona confirmed this statement when the Education Department revealed its decision, stating it would remove a major barrier for disabled students.

“Today’s action removes a major barrier that prevented far too many borrowers with disabilities from receiving the total and permanent disability discharges they are entitled to under the law,” Cardona said.

  • Despite the program’s intention to wipe student loans of those who cannot work due to disabilities, those who qualified for the program needed to apply for relief. Under the new plan, students will obtain automatic relief when identified through a data match with the Social Security Administration. The next match will take place in September.
  • In addition, the Department of Education said it would propose to eliminate the three-year income monitoring period. Officials will stop sending requests to borrowers for income information during the aforementioned years. Furthermore, the DOE will consider removing it entirely during the upcoming negotiated rule-making.
  • Disabled students and advocates believe this will bring change to the program. Persis Yu, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, said the vote is “long overdue.” However, Yu hopes the Education Department will review the eligibility criteria to determine when someone holds a disability discharge.

Yu added that Social Security’s match does not identify some qualified borrowers.

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