Gov. DeSantis signs free book delivery plan into law
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The voluntary program provides free book delivery to homes of students reading below grade level.

Florida will soon deliver free books to children struggling academically.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed legislation (HB 3) to implement Florida’s first statewide book distribution plan. The new statute, sponsored by Rep. Dana Trabulsy, a Fort Pierce Republican, is part of House Speaker Chris Sprowls‘ New Worlds Reading Initiative.

The voluntary program will provide free book delivery to the homes of elementary students who read below grade level. Recipients will get one free book every month for nine months of the year, throughout the school year.

While the law goes into effect on Thursday, Florida and the state Department of Education still must select a state university to administer the program.

The measure will also require school districts to identify eligible students and raise awareness for the initiative. Participating students could annually select book topics and genres at the start of each school year.

Reading assessments in the 2018-19 school year show 43% of third-graders are reading below grade level. Moreover, the Fall 2019 Kindergarten Readiness Screener found that nearly half of the state’s kindergarten-age students aren’t ready to begin classes based on their literacy skills.

“The Legislature finds that the ability to read is fundamental to a productive, fulfilling, culturally rewarding, and civically engaged life,” according to the legislation. “Furthermore, a literacy rich home environment helps develop reading and writing skills in young learners to prepare them for future academic and career success.”

The House and Senate passed the measure unanimously.

DeSantis already approved $200 million for the reading initiative as part of the state’s $101.5 billion budget for the coming fiscal year.

The Governor also already signed a related measure (HB 7011) creating an academic progress monitoring system through eighth grade.

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

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]

One comment

  • Jayeonte Brooks

    June 30, 2021 at 9:45 pm

    Select Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University as the state university.

Comments are closed.


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