- Charlie Crist unveiled his educational platform, playing antagonist to many of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ policies
- The platform outlines a plan to officially declare a teacher shortage, further raise teacher pay, and make Commissioner of Education an elected position
- Crist also seeks a more integrated implementation of vocational studies and career pipeline programs
Gubernatorial candidate Rep. Charlie Crist took to Twitter to unveil his educational platform, which he refers to as the ‘Freedom to Learn’ initiative. The plan outlines steps Crist will take to improve classroom experiences for teachers, parents, and students, should he win election.
Crist, a former Florida Commissioner of Education, seeks to officially declare a teacher shortage emergency and aggressively recruit teaching and education support staff, invest in higher teacher pay beyond the efforts Gov. Ron DeSantis took to do so in this year’s state budget, and increase per-student spending to the national average.
“As Florida’s last elected Commissioner of Education, Charlie will be a governor who guarantees a world-class education for every Florida student,” the initiative outline states. “Just as he did when he was your Education Commissioner and your Governor, Charlie is going to put education first and invest in our children’s future.”
Crist is using his platform as a veiled attack against DeSantis, looking to backtrack on motions the governor has either put in place or established as precedent, like his desire to make the Commissioner of Education seat an elected position again. Florida Democratic lawmakers drafted and put forth legislation to restructure the position during the 2022 legislative session, but could not gain traction amid the GOP-controlled legislature. DeSantis in May appointed Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr. as the new Commissioner following the resignation of Richard Corcoran.
Furthermore, Crist looks to “remove politics from classrooms,” undoubtedly a response to the media frenzy surrounding the Parental Rights in Education Bill, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by its detractors. Despite comprising a not insignificant portion of the platform, Crist doesn’t go into detail as to what exactly “removing politics from classrooms” would look like beyond his stated “return [of] power to elected local school boards.”
“Parents send their children to school to learn. Injecting politics into our schools hurts students and disrupts their education,” the platform reads. “This is the real indoctrination happening in schools — not Critical Race Theory and Don’t Say Gay. Those are not and never have been taught in our public schools. Classrooms should be above politics, and as Governor, Charlie will hold this principle sacrosanct.”
Crist’s proposals, however, are not entirely antagonistic to those of the sitting governor. Much like DeSantis, Crist is proposing an implementation of more vocational pipelines to create a ready and able workforce to immediately stimulate local and state economies. Career, technical, and entrepreneurial (CTE) training and apprenticeships will become more commonplace, according to Crist’s plan, tailored to the needs of the local workforce.
For example, in Monroe County, home to the Florida Keys, Crist proposes the actualization of a boat repair certification program.
“Under DeSantis, our schools are under attack — it’s time to put an end to it,” Crist concluded.