Governor Ron DeSantis was in the Tampa Bay area Monday to hail the state legislature's $10 million investment in computer science teachers across the state of Florida.
During his visit to Ridgecrest Elementary School in Largo, DeSantis said it's the largest one-time funding of these teachers in the nation.
Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran shared that there are currently only 1,200 certified computer science teachers in Florida. In the 2016-17 academic year, out of over 13,000 people who graduated from the state's colleges and universities with degrees in education, only two were credentialed in computer science.
The $10 million will support training and retaining newly certified teachers.
“The money will go toward professional development for teachers to get them trained in computer science, and money will be set aside toward bonuses for these teachers which will help us retain the ones we invest in training,” DeSantis said.
In addition to funding teachers, the recent legislation also mandated that Computer Science will count as a math or science requirement.
"We are getting Florida's workforce ready," Senator Travis Hutson said. "This is transformative, it's innovative. It's something that I think is the future in making sure these young minds find their passion. When they get passionate about being in certain careers and certain jobs, they'll do better in school."
DeSantis said the emphasis on computer science and technology aims to put Florida in the number one spot for workforce education by 2030.
After discussing the computer science legislation, DeSantis visited Ridgefield Elementary School’s classrooms where a summer STEM camp was taking place.
Students in one room showed off their drone flying skills for the governor. In another room, students tapped away at tablets, a clear illustration of the role technology already plays in the classroom.
The camp is for students in second through seventh grade, and it’s put on by the Pinellas County School District’s STEM Academies program.
DeSantis said he hopes the new computer science funding will promote more programs like the camp in schools across Florida.
"I believe we need to embrace computer science and expose our students to technology education."