Gov. Ron DeSantis devoted a sizable portion of his State of the State speech Tuesday to education policy and education-related rhetoric. He spoke about raising teacher salaries, investing more in vocational programs, and giving parents more power over their children's education.
“We have worked hard to keep schools open,” DeSantis said, speaking about his administration’s efforts during the pandemic.
His speech was watched with interest by educators around the state, including Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.
“There is quite a bit of rhetoric, incendiary rhetoric in addition to a lot of gaslighting over issues that do not reflect the tone, the tenor, the conscience of educators across the state of Florida,” Carvalho said, describing the governor’s speech.
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Carvalho was primarily referring to DeSantis mentioning critical race theory, and his assertion that parents don’t have input into what their children are being taught in school. Carvalho points out that state law already allows parents to review and comment on any curriculum additions before they are adopted by school boards.
“Florida has enacted a Parents’ Bill of Rights and we reject the notion that parents shouldn’t have a say in what their kids learn in school. Indeed, Florida law should provide parents with the right to review the curriculum used in their children’s schools. We should provide parents with recourse so that state standards are enforced, such as Florida’s prohibition on infusing subjects with critical race theory,” DeSantis said. “Our tax dollars should not be used to teach our kids to hate our country or to hate each other.”
“Schools have never been, particularly K-12 schools, places of dissension where hate is taught, in fact, schools represent the one place in America where hate is not allowed, where coexistence is taught, where acceptance and empathy and compassion are equally important to mathematics, language arts, and civics,” Carvalho responded. “No district in the state of Florida that I know of is teaching critical race theory.”
The superintendent, who is leaving soon to lead the Los Angeles Unified School District, does agree with DeSantis on the need to cut back on state assessments.
“I am proposing the elimination of the FSA and replacing it with periodic progress monitoring,” DeSantis said.
“I think we ought to reduce the level of testing and increase the opportunities for teaching, that makes a great deal of sense,” Carvalho said.
Carvalho and DeSantis also agree on investing more money into mental health services, job training programs, and hardening schools. Those items are in the governor’s proposed budget.