Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., gave a campaign speech on Sunday, and he outlined his education plan.
In the speech, DeSantis endorsed 29 local school board candidates in an apparent attempt to implement his education platform — an unusual move for a governor.
Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez also appeared at the event, and she gave a concise summary of the administration’s goals. “I’m calling on each and every one of you to join us in this battle to take back our school boards,” she said, according to Insider.
School boards have been receiving more and more attention from voters amid frustration over prolonged closures. Last year, San Francisco held a recall election for three members of its school board, and it saw a higher turnout in the recall election than in the original election.
Meanwhile, Republicans appear to have overtaken Democrats in polls about school-related issues.
DeSantis, in particular, has commanded media attention for his resistance to closures and his action on social issues, like critical race theory. However, he also addresses pocketbook issues in his 10-point plan for education.
For example, the governor seeks not only to “Support Robust Civics Education” and “Keep Woke Gender Ideology Out of Schools,” but also to “Increase Teacher Pay” and “Expand Workforce Development and Technical Education.”
On Tuesday, DeSantis released his plan to address the teacher shortage by granting temporary certificates to firefighters, paramedics and police officers.
In fact, the governor was speaking directly to firefighters at Sunday’s event. “We need help at the local level,” DeSantis said Sunday in front of a firehouse alongside more than 400 supporters.
The certificate plan has faced polarized responses. Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar accused the governor of “shortcutting” during an interview with Yahoo! Finance. “Doesn’t really get at the root of the problem,” Spar said.
Supporters point out that the certificate plan is intended only as temporary relief. They argue that longer-term recoveries and reforms will come from recapturing the school boards.
DeSantis, while endorsing school board candidates, told the firehouse, “You guys with your power going out and voting is going to make a huge difference.”
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The governor has endorsed more than two dozen candidates in Florida’s nonpartisan races for school boards. Meanwhile, his political action committee has supplemented the endorsements with donations of $1,000.
The school board candidates have thanked the governor. One candidate, Jacqueline Rosario of Indian River County, told Politico about a voter swayed by the governor’s endorsement.
“She said, because I’ve been endorsed by him, ‘you have my vote,’” Rosario told Politico in an interview. “She didn’t even ask my stance on issues or why I’m running.”
By endorsing school board candidates, DeSantis has made an unusual move for an executive, but not an unprecedented move. San Francisco Mayor London Breed has issued scathing press releases about the board members in her city.
DeSantis has previously attracted attention for his executive actions, like firing an elected prosecutor. Currently, he’s running for a second term as governor, with the election in November.
However, the governor may also be aiming higher. He refused to rule out a run for president while speaking on Fox News last year.
“We are not going to surrender to woke,” DeSantis said Sunday, according to Insider. “We are going to prevail and Florida is the state where woke goes to die.”
Florida will hold its primary elections on Tuesday, Aug. 23, for both the governor’s race and the school board races. The general election is set for Nov. 8.
The Horn editorial team