DeSantis touts state educational approach at Teacher of the Year conference

by | Jul 12, 2022

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis praised state educational action during the last school year, including keeping schools open and eliminating FSA testing 
  • DeSantis pointed to a recent Harvard study that insinuates remote learning may have detrimental long-term effects on young schoolchildren 
  • Florida faces a major teacher shortage approaching 10,000 vacancies 


Gov. Ron DeSantis, while speaking at the Teacher of the Year conference, lauded the state’s educational approach to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the elimination of the Florida Statewide Assessment (FSA) in favor of progress monitoring.

While applauding the teachers selected as the state’s finest, DeSantis touched on in-school learning, referencing a recent Harvard study showing the harmful effects of extended remote learning on schoolchildren.

“There has now been in recent weeks, it seems, more of these blips talking about “Oh, the damage from school closures were way worse than anticipated.” No, it was fully anticipated what would happen,” remarked the governor. “In Florida, we understood. I was looking at these other states that never wanted the kids in school. Don’t tell me that remote education is a substitute.”

DeSantis notably and controversially committed to keeping schools open following hte first wave of pandemic shutdowns, much to the chagrin of a school district collective including some of Florida’s largest counties like Miami-Dade and Duval.

The governor also spoke on his elimination of FSA testing, a move that was celebrated by the overwhelming majority of teachers, students, and parents. The programs drew criticism after curriculums shifted to a focus on passing the end-of-year tests rather than thoroughly teaching the material. With the move away from standardized testing, Florida will become the first state in the nation to enact progress monitoring.

The measure reduces testing time by upwards of 75 percent, benefiting students and teachers alike. The diagnostic, child-specific monitoring allows for educators to track and receive real-time data reflecting the specific areas that a student may need remedial instruction on. The monitoring also allows students to receive feedback in the current school year, as opposed to the FSA method which oftentimes doesn’t provide testing results until the following summer break.

Overall school grades will be assessed based on the results yielded from progress monitoring checks, similarly to how FSA results presently factor into the administration of school grades, However, progress monitoring allows for regulatory bodies to have a more nuanced insight toward individual school performance, which would allow for a more accurate reflection in the grade a school receives.

For educational services, a round of $1,000 bonus checks for approximately 179,000 teachers and principals in Florida was confirmed, as well as $600 million for teacher pay.

An increase in per-student funding to reach $8,000 per student will be coupled with an elimination of the Florida Standards Assessment and its replacement with progress monitoring.

Florida does, however, face a looming major teacher shortage just weeks before the beginning of the next academic school year, quicky approaching 10,000 vacancies.

Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. during a webinar on Monday focused on the lack of professional development for teachers, recognizing the monetary and personal investment oftentimes needed to secure proper teaching credentials and certifications.

Diaz expressed interest in expanding “new teacher academies,” where high school students are introduced to the teaching profession in preparation for taking on education as a career. Several counties already host similarly-structured programs, though Diaz holds the ambition to include paraprofessionals and other school staff like substitute teachers within the program, opening a pipeline that allows a wider pool to train and put in the position of educators.

“We have future educator programs across the state. We’re looking at expanding those and creating that pipeline,” said Diaz. “One idea is to not only identify students who may go on to work in the teaching profession but also paraprofessionals. How do we get these folks into a pipeline and then provide mentor leadership teachers that can provide hands-on experience and training?”

Congratulations to the five teachers selected as the state’s Teacher of the Year: Melissa Anne MatzTrinity Brooke WhittingtonJennifer JasoDeelah Jackson, and Seema Naik.


  1. Tom

    To be clear, Yes thanks to Gov that he opened schools in person. Florida Education Assoc sued, he won.
    Florida schools have improved, it’s clear he’s saved young students suicides. Gov has challenged school bureaucracy to educate. Congrats to the 5 educators.

  2. Doug Jones

    Where was the teacher of the year conference held? And where were the Teachers of the year from?

  3. Theresa A Ferlita

    Florida may have gotten rid of FSA, but government is still telling teachers what to teach and what is okay to talk with students about. They will also soon have a problem hiring and maintaining guidance counselors and school social workers.

    • Anonymous

      Why was he at any teacher event? He’s made it clear that he thinks teachers are just indoctrinating our children. Step aside so teachers can do their job and quit taking credit for any positive improvement in our schools. DeSantis can take credit for one thing though… the teacher shortage.

  4. Jane

    How was the $1,000 bonus for the 179,000 teachers authorized. I know that teachers are underpaid, and, by some people, under appreciated and mistrusted (how else to explain the state removing books and barring certain topics from discussion in the classroom?). If the bonus was governor initiated, I smell potential vote-buying!

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