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Teachers 'walking on eggshells' as new state laws take effect at schools

Jul 09, 2023Jul 09, 2023

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A new school year brings new policies and rules for Florida schools.

All across the state, school districts in Florida know that change is in the air, namely new laws facing teachers and an uncertain school year.


"Teachers are mindful, walking on eggshells in some cases," Jennifer Freeland, the head of the teachers union in Indian River County, said.

She admits teachers are feeling the stress of new laws in Florida, which include everything from the transgender bathroom bill, curbing preferred pronouns, curriculum changes and challenges to books. Freeland said it has even forced some teachers to do away with their own classroom books.

"Teachers are choosing to just box up their library and take it home for now," Freeland said. "No one is getting rid of it. It was a lot of money."

District leaders in Palm Beach County are also mindful of the new rules this year.

"There's plenty of them," Palm Beach County School District superintendent Mike Burke said. "It seems almost like a relentless machine of new laws and state board rules."

Burke said there is a learning curve for getting up to speed.

"In terms of implementing that, I try to do it in the least disruptive manner to try to make sure we truly understand the letter of the law and not overreact," Burke said.

Many teachers however see the stakes are high for getting it right.

"We have teachers leaving because of the amount of stress, the stress of trying to do it exactly right, trying to keep everything that's on my plate ... worrying about the 'gotcha,' who's going to get me next," Freeland said.

Freeland said it is making the job much tougher as the bell rings on a new school year.