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DeSantis talks school choice, higher education at Naples event

Posted at 5:03 PM, Feb 28, 2024

NAPLES, FLA — Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Naples on Wednesday where he spoke to a crowd at The Freedom Institute of Collier County about education reform, school choice, and ways students can succeed in their careers besides going to a four-year college.

The event drew in a full room of parents, students, and supporters of The Freedom Institute.

In his opening remarks, Governor DeSantis expressed pride in Florida's direction on education. "We're proud to be a state that's embraced educational choice for children," he told the crowd.

Gov. DeSantis fervently credited his own policies and leadership for Florida's growing rank in education.

“When I took office as Governor, I made school choice a priority for my administration, working with the Legislature to expand our scholarship programs and deliver universal school choice,” Gov. DeSantis said.

He further highlighted his administration's efforts in implementing financial literacy and civic education into school curricula while criticizing states like California for their educational policies.

"The purpose of higher education is not to impose an ideological agenda on students," DeSantis stated. "The purpose should be its classical mission: pursuing truth, upholding academic integrity and rigor, and preparing students to be citizens of the republic," he continued.

DeSantis also emphasized the value of workforce education, noting alternative career paths for students beyond traditional four-year degrees.

"Students throughout the state of Florida are now able to graduate high school with certifications in a lot of these trades: welding, aviation mechanics, electrical," DeSantis explained. "This provides graduates an ability to be gainfully employed immediately, without having to go in debt or having to go through getting a degree," he said.

Accompanying the governor was Tom Grady, co-founder of the Freedom Institute, which hosted the event. The local organization opened in August and offers programs for homeschooled students.

"We believe in traditional curriculum, traditional values, citizenship, and studying American history — ensuring students get the basics right," Grady stated.

According to the governor's office, Florida has funded more than 380,000 school choice scholarships since universal school choice legislation was signed into law.