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Florida’s DeSantis signs education reform bill into law

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(The Center Square) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an education reform bill into law on Tuesday that will have long-reaching implications for the state’s education system.

House Bill 1285 does several things, including addressing school districts with “Turn-Around” status, repeals the Florida College System’s employment equity and accountability program and requires the State Board of Education to establish specialized teaching certificates for classical school educators.

DeSantis said during a news conference in Jacksonville that Florida has a reputation for giving parents the leading hand in how they choose to educate their children, as well as keeping the public school curriculum transparent so parents are aware of what is being taught.

DeSantis noted that the Legislature has enacted many other education-related bills, one in particular now has every school district in Florida involved in civics education, as well as the civics and debate initiative which only had around 12 schools participating five years ago.

“We’ve also increased teacher salaries every year since I’ve been governor. We now have in this budget that I will be signing… the biggest increase in teacher compensation,” DeSantis said.

In-state tuition for higher education in the Sunshine State has also remained affordable, and according to DeSantis, Florida is number one out of all 50 states for lowest tuition and number two in the U.S. for two-year graduation rates, and fourth for four-year college graduation rates.

“Part of the reason why you’re able to get people through in four years is because we’re not charging an arm and a leg,” DeSantis said. “We’re not trying to keep them for six years just to make more money off that, we want you to go get your degree and then move on.”

DeSantis noted that he and the Legislature have ensured that colleges and universities do not become “cauldrons of ideological indoctrination,” instead, lawmakers are focused on core subjects.

“So this [bill] has a huge number of things that are really gonna make a difference,” DeSantis said. “One, we really believe in supporting military families when it comes to our school system, and we believe in creating pathways for students who may want to go into the military as a career.”

The bill further requires school districts and charter schools to provide 11th- and 12th-grade students with the opportunity to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Test.

“With the signing of House Bill 1285, Governor DeSantis has further solidified Florida’s higher education system as number one in the nation,” said Ray Rodrigues, chancellor of the State University System of Florida. “HB 1285 establishes additional accountability measures and creates opportunities for universities to enhance research and innovation to meet the workforce and economic demands of our state.”

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