At the conclusion of 2019, Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran released the following education highlights of Governor DeSantis’ first full year in office. Not only is Governor DeSantis proving he is the Education Governor, he also wants to ensure Florida is the Education State.
“As 2019 comes to a close and I reflect on my first full year as Governor, I am extremely proud of the work we have done for Florida’s students, families and teachers,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We have secured historic education funding, increased educational choice options, increased school safety and mental health awareness, expanded opportunities for career and technical education, elevated and celebrated educators, and so much more. I am looking forward to celebrating continued success throughout 2020 as we build on this positive momentum to ensure there is no better state in the nation to receive a world class education.”
“After a historic 2019 Legislative Session, Governor DeSantis has come back bigger and better than before with his newly announced Bolder, Brighter, Better Future Budget,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “Last session, Governor DeSantis proved to be a true leader by securing wins for students, parents, and teachers through policies that have changed the educational landscape for decades to come. Florida students and educators are set up for success with Governor DeSantis advocating for them, and I commend him for taking this bold action to ensure Florida is on the path to becoming #1 in the nation in education. I am looking forward to a successful 2020 Legislative Session.”
Investing in Florida’s Students
- Secured a $75 per student increase to the Base Student Allocation (BSA), the largest increase since 2015-2016.
- Secured a $242.60 per student increase, in the conference calculation, for the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP), the largest increase since 2013-2014 and the second largest increase since 2007-2008.
- Secured a $21.84 billion in state and local funding, an increase of $782.9 million to the FEFP.
- All while still providing property tax relief for Floridians.
- Proposed another $50 per student increase to the BSA, resulting in approximately $157 million in funding that school districts can flexibly use to support all teachers and school employees.
- Proposed a $302.46 per student increase to the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP).
- Proposed $22.90 billion in state and local funding, an increase of $1.04 billion to the FEFP.
Elevating and Celebrating Teachers
- Secured a $284.5 million recurring investment in our Best and Brightest teachers and principals, a $50.5 million increase.
- Eliminated the 31,666 educator certification application backlog in less than 120 days.
- Put money back in teachers’ pockets by reducing registration fees for teacher certification exams.
- Provided teachers with increased flexibility to pass the General Knowledge Test during the first three years in the classroom, rather than just one year, consistent with the three-year period that teachers have to obtain their certification.
- Continued Funding to provide free liability insurance to every Florida teacher, protecting those who educate our students.
- Identified $15.8 million in federal funding that could be redirected to Title I schools with a D or F school grade to help these schools recruit and financially incentivize highly effective and effective teachers to come teach and these schools that need the greatest support. Nearly 1,100 teachers took advantage of this opportunity, an opportunity that really represents the reward of getting a great teacher in front of students in struggling schools.
- Released a groundbreaking $602 million proposal to increase the minimum salary for teachers across the state to $47,500 to take Florida from the 26th highest starting salary to the 2nd highest in the nation.
- Proposed the new Florida Classroom Teacher ($290 million) and Florida School Principal ($9 million) bonus programs to replace Best and Brightest, creating a simpler and lasting national best practice model for rewarding Florida’s teachers and principals who elevate student outcomes at their schools.
- Combining the minimum salary increase and teacher and principal bonuses, which together would impact nearly 80% of all teachers, with the increase to the BSA, which school districts can use to further increase salaries for all teachers and school employees, Governor DeSantis has proposed to give Florida more than $1 billion to recruit, retain and reward the nation’s best educational workforce.
- Requested $200,000 increase for teacher liability insurance, to a total of $1.05 million, to ensure that all Florida K-12 teachers have free liability insurance and to also ensure that the plan covers any teacher who takes on the responsibility of also serving as a Guardian for their school.
- Requested $500,000 to fund a High Impact Teacher Corps, a group of Florida’s best teachers from whom best practices can be learned and shared.
Aligning Education to the Goals of Lifelong Learning, Civic Literacy and Free Speech
- January 31, 2019 Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 19-32, outlining a path for Florida to improve education by eliminating Common Core, providing a roadmap to make Florida’s standards number one in the nation, streamlining testing, identifying opportunities to improve civic literacy, and outlining a pathway to be the most literate state in the nation.
- The Department hosted the Florida Standards Listening Tour where Floridians had the opportunity to offer public input on the Florida Standards at nine town hall meetings throughout the state. Additionally, the Department conducted three dozen briefings for stakeholder organizations, collected nearly 100,000 review of standards by the public and worked on draft standards with more than 80 Florida-based educational expert organizations.
- Secured legislation to work in concert with Executive Order 19-32, calling for a review of civics curriculum and assessments by December 31, 2019 and civics standards by December 31, 2020. The Department subsequently partnered with leading national expert organizations in the review of curriculum and assessments.
- At the call of Governor DeSantis, all 28 State Colleges and 12 State Universities adopted a resolution similar to the “Chicago Statement” championing free speech on postsecondary campuses.
- Secured legislation to ensure school districts accept a permanent change of station order as proof of residency for all public school programs, and that active duty members, spouses and their dependents are classified as residents for tuition purposes.
- Released a Back-to-School Reading List for all Florida students, grades K to 12, including world-renowned titles, rich historical nonfiction, classical and popular literature, thought-provoking Florida works and favorite reads from Florida’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, Dr. Dakeyan Chá Dré Graham.
- The State Board of Education approved a rule to provide transparency and accountability for required instruction to ensure that schools are teaching subjects like Holocaust education, African-American history, Hispanic heritage, women’s history, civics and more.
- By December 31, 2019, the Department will submit its recommendations for improvements to civics curriculum and assessments.
- By January 1, 2020, the Department will submit its findings on educational standards to Governor DeSantis.
- Requested $375,000 to implement the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative, which will help expand middle and high school speech and debate programs across the state.
- Requested $3 million total to support teacher professional development and the creation of resources for teachers, so Florida’s educators can be supported in their implementation of new standards for Math and English Language Arts.
Empowering Students and Their Families
- Secured passage of Family Empowerment Scholarship, which achieved its first-year enrollment cap of 18,000 students, the largest first year enrollment of any private choice scholarship program in the nation’s history.
- Secured $147.9 million for the Gardiner Scholarship Program, an increase of $19.6 million, which was a game changer for the nearly 1,900 students with special needs who were on the waiting list.
- Continued legislative and funding support, $40 million, for Schools of Hope, following the confirmation of IDEA Public Schools and KIPP confirming their intent to open 25 schools in Tampa Bay area and Miami-Dade, respectively.
- Continued equitable treatment of all public schools – traditional public schools and public charter schools – for the receipt of capital outlay funding.
- Requested a $24.8 million increase in funding, for a total of $172.8 million, for the Gardiner Scholarship Program to fund an estimated 2,367 additional students with special needs.
- Requested a doubling of the allowable enrollment growth for the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program.
Creating Pathways for Florida’s Future Workforce
- January 30, 2019 Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 19-31 to chart a course for Florida to become #1 in the nation for workforce education by 2030, including a requirement that the Department of Education audit career and technical education (CTE) offerings in the state and develop a methodology to audit and review offerings annually, including directives to ensure that those programs are aligned with in-demand workforce opportunities. That annual audit requirement was subsequently codified in state law.
- Secured $10 million and subsequently awarded more than $7 million in apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship grants through the new Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program. During the initial grant phase, the Department awarded 37 school districts, colleges, and private institutions. The Department will award the nearly $3 million in remaining funds during a second round of competitive applications.
- Secured $10 million to fund teacher professional development in computer science and reward those teachers for earning credentials to teach high quality computer science courses.
- Created flexibility for students to count high quality computer science courses as either a required Math or Science credit in high school.
- Provided an array of options to ensure that postsecondary students don’t leave college without a degree or credential, including:
- A requirement that students be able to “reverse transfer” their credits to earn an associate in arts degree;
- A requirement that universities notify students of the opportunity to receive their associate in arts upon completion of the necessary credits; and
- Creation of the Last Mile College Completion Program.
- Secured a commitment from all 28 State Colleges to self-fund the Last Mile College Completion Program for the 2019-2020 school year to demonstrate their commitment to ensuring that students enter the workforce with a high quality credential in-hand.
- Increased funding incentives for districts and college industry certification programs, $2 and $4 million, respectively, and $30 million in performance funding for Florida’s 28 state colleges.
- Hosted a Workforce Education Listening Tour on the development of the state plan to implement The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V).
- Received a $3.79 million federal grant for expanding registered apprenticeship programs.
- Florida DOE’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) served 48,439 individuals including more than 22,866 transition age youth, and 888 employers at 1,014 locations with a 21.6 percent increase in the repeat business customer rate. For every $1 invested in rehabilitating a disabled Floridian, an estimated $8.34 was returned to the Florida economy in 2018–2019 state fiscal year.
- Release the results of the career and technical education audit, pursuant to Executive Order 19-31, and work on next steps with school districts, colleges and career technical centers.
- Submit Florida’s Perkins V state plan to the U.S. Department of Education in Spring 2020.
- Requested continuation of the $10 million in funding for the Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program.
- Requested continuation of the $10 million in funding for teacher professional development in computer science.
- Requested $10 million increase, for $40 million total, for performance incentives for Florida’s 28 colleges, with this $10 million increase focusing on dual enrollment.
- Requested $5 million to expand and $11 million to meet demand of school district postsecondary programs at their technical colleges and centers.
- Requested $1.5 million to fund the Last Mile College Completion Program.
- Requested continued $14 million in funding for students earning industry certifications at Florida’s colleges and $6.5 million for students earning industry certifications at career technical centers.
- Requested another $22.4 million to support Florida’s 28 colleges in their efforts to meet communities’ and workforce’s needs.
Creating Safe and Healthy Learning Environments
- February 13, 2019 Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 19-45, reopening the application window for the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, requiring the Department to communicate matters of compliance and best practices for school safety to all school districts, and requiring the Department to implement school safety information technology resources by August 1, 2019.
- The Department reopened the application window for the Guardian Program, which at the time served 25 county school districts and now as a result of the new application window and securing continued funding in the 2019 Session there are 40 districts participating.
- Secured $180 million for school resource officers and enhanced school safety measures, $50 million for school hardening grants and continued financial investment in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.
- Secured $75 million in mental health funding for districts and schools to establish care for students and $5.5 million to continue evidence-based youth mental health awareness and assistance training to help school personnel identify and understand the signs of mental health and substance abuse problems.
- Continued investment in and funding for improvements to the Florida Safe Schools Assessment online risk assessment Tool (FSSAT) that assists in school emergencies, crisis and preparedness planning and prevention.
- Enacted legislation implemented dozens of school safety recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, including strengthening compliance and expanding schools and districts access to the Guardian Program and ensuring the security of every school.
- August 1, 2019 the Department officially launched the new Florida Schools Safety Portal and a social media monitoring tool as a key component of the Portal.
- Worked with many school districts, individual schools and law enforcement statewide to ensure that every school in Florida had coverage from a safe schools officer by the first week of schools opening throughout the state.
- First Lady Casey DeSantis held many listening sessions on mental health and substance abuse, which were in part of the First Lady’s Hope for Healing Florida initiative.
- As part of the First Lady’s Hope for Healing Florida initiative, the State Board of Education adopted new administrative rules requiring greater transparency and accountability for required instruction in mental health and substance abuse education.
- Adopted another State Board rule requiring greater transparency and accountability for instruction in child trafficking prevention. With this new rule, Florida is the first state in the nation to address the need for K-12 instruction in child trafficking prevention.
- Conducted extensive trainings for schools and school districts, including a May 2019Florida DOE orchestrated 4-day, Statewide Threat Assessment Training led by internationally renowned experts in the field, Dr. Dewey Cornell, a forensic clinical psychologist and Professor of Education in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, and Dr. Scott Poland, a Professor at the College of Psychology and Co-Director of the Suicide and Violence Prevention Office at Nova Southeastern University. Additionally, Florida DOE implemented recommendations from a third party independent audit of the FSSAT and trained school safety specialists in best practices for using the FSSAT.
- First Lady Casey DeSantis announced the “The Facts. Your Future.” Campaign in partnership with Attorney General Moody, Commissioner Corcoran, Surgeon General Rivkees and Secretary Poppell to help youth understand the toxic effects of substance abuse.
- Requested an additional $25 million in funding, $75 million total, for school safety grants to improve the physical security of K-12 school buildings.
- Requested a historic level of commitment $100 million, a $25 million increase, to expand school-based mental health care, to improve the availability of school- and community-based mental health services for students.
- Requested continued funding of $2.5 million for school hardening at Jewish Day Schools to provide security and counter-terrorism upgrades.
- Requested continued funding of $5.5 million for youth mental health awareness and assistance training, train the trainer and peer to peer training that will help get every public school employee the skills they need to support shows showing the signs and symptoms of mental illness, including the risk of committing suicide.
- Requested $8 million to procure interoperability technology for schools and school districts, with the goal of dramatically reducing response time to emergencies at Florida’s public schools.
- Requested $640K and $3 million in continued funding to maintain critical school safety technologies that help schools plan for and respond to threats before they become a crisis.
Increasing Accountability and Quality in Early Learning
- May 15, 2019 Governor DeSantis directed Florida DOE to address Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) readiness rates, as 41% of children who participate in VPK are not ready for kindergarten. In accordance with state law, the Governor’s May directive and a subsequent State Board rule, beginning with the release of the 2018-19 school year results, VPK readiness rates will be calculated on both learning gains and kindergarten screener results. Providers that do not meet the minimum readiness rate will be subject to several consequences, including placement of the provider on probation, implementation of an improvement plan and potentially ineligibility to offer the VPK program if on probation for three or more years without a good cause exemption.
- The Office of Early Learning (OEL) was awarded an initial Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) in the amount of $8,520,000 for December 31, 2018 through December 30, 2019. Through the PDG B-5 grant, Florida has been working to implement measures that build on existing framework and infrastructure to increase the quality, alignment and efficiency of Florida’s early childhood care and education mixed-delivery system of programs and services.
- Requested $12.8 million increase for Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK), the highest base student allocation (BSA) for VPK since the 2011-12 school year, for a total of $415 million.
- Requested $18.7 million in continued funding to support early learning professional development initiatives.
Acting Urgently to Improve Struggling Schools and Programs
- Amended the D & F school improvement rule, which requires Florida school districts to act with urgency in the turnaround process to ensure no student is stuck in a failing school, including a new provision to ensure that External Operator (EO) contracts include conditions of payment based on performance.
- Stabilized Florida Virtual School (FLVS), with the State Board of Education acting as FLVS’ Board of Trustees and appointing a new CEO. The new CEO ushered in a leaner and more skilled leadership team, saving $660K by cutting bloated salaries and contract lobbyists, providing pay increases for FLVS’ teachers through immediate cost reductions, right-sizing FLVS’ reserve balance, and identifying additional savings that could be passed along either to taxpayers and school districts.
- Worked with an independent auditor to conduct a performance review of FLVS and provided nearly 70 detailed recommendations to ensure the ongoing success of FLVS for Florida’s students.
- Demanded and ultimately helped guide a necessary leadership and quickly successful culture change at The Able Trust, the direct support organization for Florida DOE’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
- Through the first full four months of the year participation in Reading Scholarship Accounts, a program meant to help struggling third, fourth and fifth grade readers get caught up and ready for success, already served 80% of those students served through the entire prior 2018-2019 school year. $7.6 million was requested to continue funding Reading Scholarship Accounts.
Measuring What Matters
- Governor DeSantis announced Florida’s system of higher education, its 12 state universities and 28 state colleges, were again #1 in the nation, for the third straight year, according to U.S. News and World Report.
- The 2019 Education Week’s Quality Counts report ranked Florida #4 in the nation for K-12 student achievement.
- Announced that Florida ranks first among the 50 states in participation and third in the nation for performance on Advanced Placement (AP) exams during high school.
- Announced monumental improvement in School Grades, with over 2,000 schools earning “A” and “B” grades for the 2018-2019 school year, 63% of schools, and only 15 schools receiving an F, a drop from 35 in the previous school year.
- Indian River State College and Miami Dade College were both awarded the nationally-recognized 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. This is the third time since the award’s inception in 2011 that a Florida College System institution has earned the prestigious award.
- Pointed to both highlights and a call to action from Florida’s 2019 results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), results that were very positive for closing achievement gaps and Florida’s high quality public charter schools and at the same time a clear affirmation of the need to be bold and brave in education policymaking.
- Florida’s students with disabilities ranked #1 compared to their national counterparts on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in Grade 4 Mathematics.
- According to the 2019 NAEP results, if Florida’s 658 public charter schools and their 314,000 students were their own state, they would rank #2 in 4th grade reading, tied for #2 in 4th grade math, #1 in 8th grade reading and tied for #5 in 8th grade math.
- Unveiled the new EduData portal (edudata.fldoe.org), a data-rich website that allows Florida families to explore and compare public schools across the state, enhancing transparency about the quality of learning taking place in Florida’s classrooms. In November, Florida DOE subsequently released a mapping feature at EduData, so Floridians could better visually compare schools throughout the state.
“It is clear that with Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida is on track to be the best state in the nation for education,” said State Board of Education Chair Andy Tuck. “Last year, we had a tremendous legislative session and I’m looking forward to working with the Governor and our Legislators to make 2020 even better. Florida students are my top priority and I will continue working until all students receive a world-class education.”
For more information about the Florida Department of Education, visit fldoe.org.