HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — One Hillsborough County teacher is adjusting to new curriculum as the state changes what may be taught in classrooms.
AP Psychology was “effectively banned” from being taught last week over lessons on gender and sexual orientation, but now the state’s education commissioner said the course can be taught in its entirety in a manner that is age and developmentally appropriate.
In three days, some Tampa Bay area students will head back to the classroom, but several teachers are feeling uneasy.
Donning a brilliant smile, Cynthia Gadson has been teaching for the Hillsborough County School District for nearly three decades. She said teaching second grade at Sheehy Elementary is a labor of love, but this year comes with changes she’s never experienced before.
“Changes may be necessary,” she said. “I’m just finding out about it today and as a teacher, I have to be flexible about what I need to incorporate the changes in my classroom library and do what’s necessary.”
This year, every book in Gadson’s classroom library must be scanned and approved. She’s still waiting to learn the complex curriculum the state is requiring for teaching.
“It’s a training that I haven’t taken yet that I need to take,” Gadson said. “It depends on when they have openings. They’re going to offer it to teachers who didn’t make it in the summer.”
In Pinellas County, several high school teachers are feeling discouraged after fierce debate over AP Psych courses and the state’s move to ban AP African American studies.
“It is very nerve-wracking because I’m going to be going to school on Thursday not exactly 110% percent prepared for my three psychology classes, said Ramsey Aziz, a teacher at St. Petersburg High School.
“I’m scared to do anything that’s outside of a basic textbook these days,” Brennen Pickett said.
Teacher shortages are also weighing heavy with the Hillsborough County School District reporting more than 500 vacancies across the district.
“That means you’re going to have to do double work if you are there,” Gadson said. “You’re not getting paid extra for it, but I’m OK with it because I’m a veteran teacher. I’m a soldier.”