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DeSantis announces money to help Florida students recover from pandemic learning losses

The governor has announced funding for six projects to help close achievement gaps and boost student resiliency, especially after the pandemic's educational slowdowns.
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The governor has announced funding for six projects to help close achievement gaps and boost student resiliency, especially after the pandemic's educational slowdowns.

He says the funds will help close achievement gaps and boost student resiliency, especially after pandemic slowdowns.

Governor Ron DeSantis has announced a batch of new funding to address student learning loss. The money comes from federal COVID-19 relief funds. It will be used for after-school programs, reading intervention, and the creation of regional mental health teams.

“Early learning and early literacy really is the key,” said the governor, flanked by parents and educators as he made his announcement Wednesday at Hialeah Educational Academy. The charter school is dedicated to STEM programs as well as certificate programs in fields like law enforcement, fire rescue, and nursing.

“We are able and proud to announce an additional $289 million for programs that will improve student achievement and close learning gaps,” DeSantis said. “This money includes $105 million for after-school, weekend, and summer learning camps that will help struggling students catch up.”

In all, the governor says money is allotted for six projects to help close achievement gaps and boost student resiliency, especially after pandemic slowdowns.

One chunk of funding will support reading intervention and professional development for reading coaches. DeSantis says it’s crucial to have kids reading at grade level by the time they reach 3rd grade.

“If you have somebody that's deficient by third grade, the chance that they fall out and are continuing behind standards and end up maybe not even graduating high school, those chances increase dramatically,” DeSantis said. “So we've done more to focus on early learning and early reading, and we’re going to continue to do that.”

“If you want to see what the future of your country looks like, show me how you're educating your children,” said Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, citing ancient Greeks and Romans as he thanked DeSantis for keeping students in school during most of the pandemic.

“When we can have our kids understand that the last two years, yes, they've been difficult. Yes, we're going to have these preschool, after-school programs, during-summer programs, to get you back where you need to be and go beyond,” Corcoran said. “But that adversity, overcoming that adversity, having that grit is a key component to that child being successful in this world.”

It was one of Corcoran’s last events as education commissioner. He’s leaving the post at the end of April.

DeSantis says more announcements will be made in the coming weeks about the state’s investment in education.

Included in the $289 million:

  • $105 million for after-school and summer learning camps that help struggling students catch up;
  • $47 million for primary materials aligned to Florida’s new standards for English Language Arts (ELA), math, civics and Holocaust education;
  • $50 million to support reading intervention and professional development for reading coaches;
  • $44 million to support STEM and hands-on learning programs;
  • $22.5 million for resources to help parents be more involved in their children’s education;
  • $5 million to establish Regional Mental Health Resiliency Teams.

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Gina Jordan is the host of Morning Edition for WFSU News. Gina is a Tallahassee native and graduate of Florida State University. She spent 15 years working in news/talk and country radio in Orlando before becoming a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU in 2008. She left after a few years to spend more time with her son, working part-time as the capital reporter/producer for WLRN Public Media in Miami and as a drama teacher at Young Actors Theatre. She also blogged and reported for StateImpact Florida, an NPR education project, and produced podcasts and articles for AVISIAN Publishing. Gina has won awards for features, breaking news coverage, and newscasts from contests including the Associated Press, Green Eyeshade, and Murrow Awards. Gina is on the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors. Gina is thrilled to be back at WFSU! In her free time, she likes to read, travel, and watch her son play football. Follow Gina Jordan on Twitter: @hearyourthought