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Sundial

DeSantis’ Plan To Change Florida School Testing, ‘Anti-Riot’ Law Blocked, And 'The Woman Under The Tree'

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Courtesy of Prashant Thakker and Roberto Donoso
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The short film “The Woman Under The Tree” follows the day-to-day life of a woman experiencing homelessness in Miami Beach. It explores the meaning her routine brings to her life and to others as well.

Governor Ron DeSantis has a proposal to end Florida’s current standardized testing program. A judge ruled against Florida's anti-riot Law. Is it enforceable anymore? Plus, a short film made in Miami tackles homelessness and mental health.

On this, Wednesday, Sept. 15, episode of Sundial. 

DeSantis’ Plan To Change Standardized Tests

Teachers, students and parents adjusting to another school year during the pandemic just got a major announcement from Gov. Ron DeSantis. He announced a proposal to phase out Florida’s Standardized Assessment Testing program after this spring.

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“[It’s] outdated. It takes days to administer, leaving less time for student learning. It is not customizable to each student, which we do have the capability now with algorithms to do,” said DeSantis at a Tuesday press conference at the Doral Academy Prep School.

The FSA has faced criticism from teachers and parents for requiring educators to “teach to the test” and unfairly penalize school funding.

Under the governor’s proposal, the test would be replaced by something called “progress monitoring.”

“[It’s] basically just like three shorter check-in tests throughout the year, which he says will take a lot less time. And also, it allows you to see how a student progresses over the course of the year instead of having just one big test at the end of the year,” said WLRN education reporter Jessica Bakeman.

State lawmakers will be debating the governor’s proposal during the next legislative session, which starts in January.

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‘Anti-Riot’ Law Blocked

Following last year’s social justice movements, Gov. DeSantis and the Republican-led legislature passed a new law meant to quell protests.

The law had sweeping implications, including protections for drivers who hit protesters blocking roadways and harsher police crackdowns on demonstrators.

Last week, a federal judge in Tallahassee blocked enforcement of the law, finding its language too vague and questioning whether it impedes upon First Amendment rights.

The debate has come down to the definition of the word "riot" in a courtroom.

“Judge Walker began his opinion by talking about the history of Florida using riot laws to crack down on civil rights protesters during the 'Jim Crow' era. And sort of putting this in a historical context." said Howard Wasserman, a law professor at Florida International University. "What Florida tried to do here was to expand its definition, was to make its definition broader so that more so that the statute would reach more and more conduct and more people potentially could be liable for rioting."

The governor said his administration will appeal this most recent ruling.

‘Anti-Riot’ Law Blocked
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The Woman Under The Tree 

The local film “The Woman Under The Tree” follows the life of a woman experiencing homelessness in Miami Beach.

Every morning she puts on her lipstick and shows up at her best to sit under a shady tree. From afar, she watches a young family start their day.

The rest of her day consists of fighting for food and shelter. And in the evening she comes back to the same tree to see the family again.

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“Our film is about homelessness, absolutely. But I think it's about so much more than that," said Roberto Donoso, who co-wrote and co-produced the short story with Prashant Thakker, who also joined Sundial. "It is about connection, it’s about love, it's about lust, longing and, like I said earlier, at the end of the day it’s about the human condition and the human experience because we all have a story."

The film explores the meaning her daily routine brings to her life — and to others as well.

The film is playing at O Cinema in Miami Beach through Sept. 16. It’s also available on Apple TV. Find more information here.

The Woman Under The Tree 
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Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.