Florida county to teach Shakespeare in excerpts-only under new state rules
(The Hill) – Hillsborough County in Florida has informed educators they are only allowed to teach specific excerpts of William Shakespeare’s works due to new state laws restricting certain discussions in class.
The school district said certain parts of Shakespeare can not be taught because of the Parental Rights in Education law, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by opponents, which restricts classroom discussions that are sexual in nature, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“It was also in consideration of the law,” school district spokeswoman Tanya Arja told the outlet.
Students will be taught parts of “Macbeth,” “Hamlet” and “Romeo and Juliet,” but will not have to read the full plays for class.
Another reason for the change is the new state curriculum and exam standards, according to the outlet. Before, students had to read two full novels or plays, but changes have been made due to the new Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking.
Due to the number of books that can be on the exam, students now need to read one full novel and excerpts from five or seven different books.
“We need to make sure our students are prepared with enough material during the year so they will be prepared for their assessments,” Arja said, according to the local outlet.
A school board member took to social media to express her displeasure at the decision and how the board has not been informed of many recent changes before they are made public.
“I spent hours on the phone this morning with frustrated parents (of all partisanship) who are outraged with the direction of public education and who feel like the people who are influencing public education policies have zero stake in public education, and don’t have children who utilize our public school system,” Jessica Vaughn said in a Facebook post.
“Honestly, it feels that much of this is intentional, in order to cause as much chaos in public education as possible, so that the collapse of public education is swift and the agenda of education privatization can move forward with less obstacles,” Vaughn added.
The Hill has reached out to the Hillsborough County school district to comment.
Joseph Cool, a reading teacher in the district, told the Tampa Bay Times that “the rest of the nation — no, the world, is laughing us.”
“Taking Shakespeare in its entirety out because the relationship between Romeo and Juliet is somehow exploiting minors is just absurd,” he added.
The GOP-led changes to Florida’s education system have increasingly raised eyebrows. The state’s Orange County Public Schools announced Monday transgender employees can not use their pronouns or bathroom that matches their gender identity due to the Parental Rights in Education Act.