Casey DeSantis’ ‘Children’s Corner’ launch balances optics with education policy
Casey DeSantis launches 'Children's Corner' in Gov Mansion library.

Casey DeSantis
The First Lady is adding space for kids to the Governor's Mansion library.

First Lady Casey DeSantis and Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. convened at the Governor’s Mansion for a very special announcement with local first graders.

The library in the mansion will now have a special “Children’s Corner.”

The photo op and announcement served as a capstone to Children’s Week, emphasizing the Governor’s commitment to childhood literacy … and to his education policy agenda.

In her remarks, the First Lady struck a deliberate balance between interacting with the children, students at a Tallahassee elementary school, and making political points.

“I don’t have to tell you the Governor’s commitment to education,” DeSantis said to a room full of media microphones and a couple dozen six and seven-year-olds.

“You’ve seen his bold vision. You have seen what he has wanted to do to raise the minimum salary statewide [for teachers] to #2 in the nation,” the First Lady added.

“He has done a phenomenal job of advocating for our teachers, our principals, and our students,” DeSantis continued.

“Because after all, at the end of the day, both of us see that as a pivotal investment into the future of this state. We see the return on this investment in the success of our students,” she added.

“You’ll see much more coming during this Legislative Session,” the First Lady vowed.

While she wasn’t available to take questions after the event (her child Mason, balanced on her arm as she spoke, needed a nap), Sen. Diaz addressed gaps between the education budget proposals advanced by the Governor and the Senate and House counterparts.

DeSantis wants $602 million to go to setting a minimum salary for teachers at $47,500, which would put Florida only behind New Jersey. He’s seeking an additional $300 million for a bonus program for teachers and principals, targeting underserved populations.

The Senate is willing, as of now, to cede $400 million to districts for the salary goal and $100 million for experienced teacher raises, with no bonuses contemplated. The House wants to cut bonuses also, and devote $500 million to teacher salaries.

Diaz, who chairs the Education Committee, noted there is plenty of time left in Session to work out differences.

“I’ve been here eight years and I don’t remember anytime when a Governor’s put forward a proposal and the Legislature has had an exact immediate proposal at the same time,” Diaz said.

“I think it’s part of the process,” the Senator added. “I think he had input from Senators on our side who have different perspectives on these issues. Same thing with the House.”

“I think the good sign is the House has acknowledged and the Senate has acknowledged that the Governor’s put out a proposal that he wants to address teacher compensation, and that we are working towards that.”

“This is just the beginning of the process,” Diaz continued. “Though we have differing views, I think we are all trying to get to the goal of, to you know, to meet the Governor’s proposal in some way, shape, or form.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


One comment

  • NO MORE REPUBLICANS !!!

    January 30, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    “Politics” and “optics” go together like coffee and cream. Unfortunately, the ONLY optics Republican politicians are EVER concerned with are the optics perceived by their own tribe and the wingnuts that support their tribe. And, it does seem to me that the “Children’s Corner” is actually reserved for the current occupants of the White House!

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