Gov. DeSantis signs early learning bills into law

Lawmakers are touting the tools they're creating for parents to exercise school choice.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed two bills Tuesday making changes to the education system from prekindergarten through eighth grade.

The Legislature passed the two measures last week and presented them to the Governor on Monday. He appeared at Childcare Resources of Indian River in Vero Beach to sign the measures.

“We’ve done an awful lot of stuff, whether it’s replacing Common Core, whether it’s doing increased teacher salaries for minimum salary, whether it’s doing things for civics, there’s a whole lot to do,” DeSantis said.

The first bill (HB 419), carried by Republican Reps. Erin Grall and Vance Aloupis and Sen. Gayle Harrell, will help identify literacy and math skill deficiencies in students. Voluntary prekindergarten programs will prioritize coordinated screening and progress monitoring programs.

“This policy is all about empowering parents and families and giving parents the information that they need at that critical time in a child’s life to make the best decisions for their children,” said Grall, of Vero Beach.

It’s been a three-year endeavor to get that proposal passed.

“You learn so much in Pre-K,” said Harrell, of Stuart. “It builds for kindergarten, it builds for the next 20 years of education, so you really start here.”

The second measure (HB 7011), carried by Aloupis and Harrell, will extend the progress monitoring tool created in the previous bill through eighth grade. Real-time data would allow educators to intervene to help students struggling in subjects like reading or math.

“Providing this data in real-time allows teachers to provide necessary and immediate interventions instead of waiting until it’s too late,” DeSantis said.

The bill also establishes the Reading Achievement Initiative for Scholastic Excellence program. The RAISE program establishes a network of regional literacy support teams to enter communities and provide reading support.

Grall and Aloupis, of Miami, were both involved in early learning education before they entered the Legislature.

“I can’t tell you how encouraged I am to hear our Governor talking about the importance of early learning and to call out the challenge that we have with the number of children who are not ready for kindergarten, and not just identifying the problem but saying how do we fix it,” Aloupis said.

Also on hand was Rockledge Republican Sen. Debbie Mayfield, the Senate Majority Leader.

“You will notice, in a lot of our legislation we passed this year, we are giving parents more choices on where their kids go to school and how their kids are educated,” Mayfield said.

Florida’s kindergarten readiness level was only 42% when DeSantis entered office, he said.

“I think these are bills that are really, really going to make an impact, and I think these are major sweeping reforms, and I’m proud to be able to sign them into law,” the Governor said.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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