Ron DeSantis: Boost Classroom Spending For Students and Teachers, Expand Choice, Vocational and Technical Education, and Hold the Line on College Tuition
As a product of Florida’s public school system and a parent of two future Florida students, Ron DeSantis knows the importance of ensuring all Florida students have the opportunity to attend a great school and get a world-class education. Ron DeSantis believes that every student, regardless of their zip code or family circumstances, should have the opportunity to get a great education.
Twenty years ago, decades of taking a cookie-cutter approach to educating our diverse youth culminated in a systemic failure across Florida’s education system. The system’s refusal to innovate and change resulted in scores of Florida’s children being robbed of the opportunity to improve their future and maximize their opportunities through getting a high-quality education.
Back then, Florida ranked 38th on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) and had an abysmal 52% high school graduation rate. After two decades of Republican-led education reforms, we now rank 5th in the nation on the NAEP and have a graduation rate of 82.3%. Florida also ranks 4th in the nation for K-12 achievement and was the only state in the country in 2017 to significantly improve in the key areas of grade 4 mathematics, grade 8 reading, and grade 8 mathematics. As Governor, Ron DeSantis will set the ambitious goal of achieving top 3 status in both the NAEP and K-12 achievement rankings.
In Higher Education, Florida now boasts five of the top 100 public universities in the country, including one in the top 10. We have the 2nd best 2-year college graduation rate in the country and the 8th best 4-year college graduation rate in the country – while maintaining the 2nd lowest tuition in the country and 6th lowest percent of students with debt at graduation. On day one, Ron DeSantis will challenge our university system to do even better by setting a goal of having a top five public university.
Florida’s education success story was made possible by allowing for innovation in education coupled with choice for families and public accountability.
Ron DeSantis will build on these successful reforms and not allow our education system to slide backwards. Ron DeSantis will work tirelessly to make Florida a world-class leader on education.
To build a world-class education system & prepare all Florida students for the future, Ron DeSantis will:
Boost Spending for Students and Teachers by Implementing the 80% Classroom Spending Plan, Putting More Money Directly to the Classroom
Ron DeSantis will boost spending for students and teachers by recommending the 80% Classroom Spending Plan, which will require 80% of K-12 dollars to be spent directly in the classroom. This will ensure no taxpayer money is wasted on bureaucracy and bloat and will put more money where it matters most: with students and teachers.
- Spend Funds Directly in the Classroom. To maximize Florida taxpayers’ investment in our students, Ron DeSantis will implement the 80% Classroom Spending Plan, which ensures that 80% of public K-12 education spending goes directly into the classroom. This will cut bureaucratic waste and administrative inefficiency and ensure that money is being spent where it matters most.
- Conduct a Full Audit of the Florida Department of Education. To determine where wasteful spending occurs, Ron DeSantis will direct the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education to oversee a complete operational and financial audit of the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) to identify funding that can be put back into the classroom.
- Ensure Transparency and Accountability to the Public in School Districts. To ensure transparency in school district spending and support public accountability in school districts, Ron DeSantis will work with the Legislature to pass legislation requiring local schoolboards to offer an online database where the public can see exactly how the district is spending taxpayer funds. He will also support a constitutional amendment putting term limits on school board members.
Emphasize Career & Technical Education
Ron DeSantis will work to expand vocational and technical education to teach real-world skills to students and help them prepare for the jobs of the 21st century.
- Emphasize Career and Technical Education Courses and Apprenticeship Programs. To improve Florida’s “skills gap”, Ron DeSantis will work with leaders from K-12 schools, postsecondary education, and the business community to better support career and technical education and apprenticeships, and to make sure Florida’s education is meeting the needs of our students and economy. He will make sure that Florida is offering high quality CTE offerings that provide pathways to higher skill and higher wage jobs for Florida’s students. Ron DeSantis will work with the Legislature to incentivize and recognize schools leading their communities in career and technical education programs.
- Allow Mastery-Based Curricula in Career and Technical Education Classes. To help students get a job as soon as they are ready, Ron DeSantis will support mastery-based curricula in career and technical education, which will allow students to complete these programs as soon as they demonstrate the proper competency.
- Expand Apprentice and Pre-Apprenticeship Programs. To expand job opportunities for Floridians, Ron DeSantis will work with the Florida Legislature to find ways to support and expand apprenticeships for jobs in high-demand fields.
Encourage Innovation & Expand Choice in Education
Ron DeSantis will work to empower parents to make educational decisions for their children and ensure that all Florida students have the opportunity to go to a good school, regardless of where they live or how much money their parents have. Ron DeSantis will always stand with the 140,000+ mostly minority, poor and uniquely abled students that depend on choice scholarships and against politicians like Andrew Gillum who would take them away.
- Support School Choice Options. To ensure that all Florida students can go to a good school and empower parents to make educational decisions for their children, Ron DeSantis will support school choice options such as public magnet schools, district & non-district managed public charter schools, Florida Virtual School, home education, and the various other choice options. DeSantis will also look at the possibility of creating Education Savings Accounts for more Florida students including those from low-income and working-class families.
- Expand Choice Scholarship Programs. To support the more than 140,000 diverse Florida students that have chosen to utilize and depend on Florida’s K-12 scholarship programs like the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, McKay and Gardiner Scholarships, Ron DeSantis will support policies that expand choice scholarships, including raising the cap on the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program. The more than 140,000 students that utilize these programs include over 40,000 students with disabilities, nearly 40,000 Black or African American students, over 50,000 Hispanic or Latino students, just over 43,000 White students, nearly 8,000 students of other ethnicities, and over 100,000 students from low-income families. These programs are so popular that tens of thousands of students were turned away last year from these important scholarship programs. Ron DeSantis will fight to ensure every student eligible receives their scholarship, and he will always stand with these students and their parents over bureaucracy and unions.
- Ensure Equal Access for Parents Who Home School Their Children. To support the families of the nearly 90,000 students in Florida that are home schooled, Ron DeSantis will ensure that these children have equal access to resources available to other students, such as dual enrollment and extracurricular activities. The decision on how a child should be educated is best left to their family, as no far-away bureaucrat could ever understand a child the way a parent does. For many Florida families, homeschooling provides the best opportunity to educate their children.
Recruit, Reward and Retain Good Teachers
Ron DeSantis will support policies that reward high-performing teachers and reduce teacher shortages while ensuring Florida students learn from the best.
- Reward High-Performing Teachers. To reward and retain the best teachers, Ron DeSantis will work with the Legislature to simplify and optimize the teacher merit pay evaluation system so it is based reasonably on classroom performance. He will also look to generate financial savings by reducing unnecessary education bureaucracy and will direct the Legislature to use excess funds to provide more funding for merit pay bonuses for outstanding teachers.
- Address Teacher Shortages. To help recruit the best teachers, Ron DeSantis will work with the Legislature to expand programs that incentivize top educators to teach in Florida and to develop programs that incentivize and reward teachers in more demanding or specialized positions, such as teaching Florida’s special needs students.
Review & Improve Florida’s Curriculum Standards
Ron DeSantis will direct a complete review of Florida’s curriculum standards and will propose policies that put emphasis on civics and America’s founding constitutional principles.
- Review Florida’s K-12 Curriculum Standards. To ensure Florida’s schools have the best possible standards while not being dictated to by the federal government, Ron DeSantis will direct a complete review of Florida’s curriculum standards to ensure that we are not rubber-stamping Common Core or any other one-size-fits-all standards. The review will include safeguards that ensure there are no demonstrable political biases in our students’ textbooks, such as anti-Israel bias.
- Require a Section on American Constitutional Principles in Civics Classes. To equip Florida students to be well-rounded citizens, Ron DeSantis will work with the Legislature to develop and pass policies that ensure a renewed emphasis on teaching America’s founding principles and ensure that the Constitution is put back into the classroom.
Build an Affordable, World-Class Higher Education System
Ron DeSantis will support and expand higher education programs that ensure Florida’s state colleges and universities offer students a world-class education at an affordable rate.
- Enhance Performance Funding. To encourage the continued performance of Florida’s universities and support the ongoing climb of Florida public universities in major rankings, Ron DeSantis will work with the Legislature to increase performance funding and enhance other programs that have proven effective at improving 4-year graduation rates, increasing student retention rates, lowering student costs, and reducing student debt.
- Protect Taxpayers’ Investment in Florida’s Higher Education System. To ensure government does not waste taxpayer dollars in Florida’s higher education, Ron DeSantis will hold state colleges and universities accountable for wasteful and inappropriate spending.
- Hold the Line on Tuition and Student Expenses. To minimize students’ costs and reduce student debt, Ron DeSantis will work with the Legislature to keep tuition as low as possible by looking for administrative spending reduction opportunities while also supporting Bright Futures Scholarships and other programs that reduce the financial burden on Florida’s students. He will also look for ways to curb additional costs for students, such as textbooks and other fees.
- Support our College System. To support the success of the Florida College System and the important role it plays in our education system, Ron DeSantis will work closely with the Legislature and college system leaders to ensure that it remains one of the most dynamic and effective systems in the country. Ron DeSantis will also work with the Legislature to increase performance funding for our State College System. Hundreds of thousands of students throughout the state expand their opportunities and brighten their futures by enrolling at our state colleges. We must continuously look for ways to make them more efficient and effective.