Ron DeSantis: Nationwide Test Scores Show Florida Was Right to Reopen Schools

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks in a neighborhood impacted by Hurricane Ian at Fisher
OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images, Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Florida’s approach throughout the Chinese coronavirus — prioritizing in-person learning — has proven to be wise, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP] results, which further demonstrates the devastating impact coronavirus shutdowns had, particularly on children.

According to a press release from DeSantis’s office, “Florida ranks 3rd in the nation in Grade 4 Reading and 4th in Grade 4 Mathematics.”

“We insisted on keeping schools open and guaranteed in-person learning in 2020 because we knew there would be widespread harm to our students if students were locked out. Today’s results once again prove that we made the right decision,” DeSantis said in a statement.

“We also knew that younger and at-risk students would be the most impacted if schools were closed, and the results speak for themselves. In Florida our 4th grade students rank #3 in Reading and #4 in Math, achieving top 4 in both English and Math for the first time in state history, while lockdown California and New York aren’t even in the top 30,” he said, asserting in a tweet that the results, when adjusted for demographics, are even better:

His announcement coincides with the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which found America’s students in fourth through eighth grade registering what reports have described as the “largest ever decline in math” as well as concerning markings in reading.

Per Politico:

The nation’s average math score for fourth-graders fell by five points since 2019 (from 241 to 236, out of a possible 500). Eighth-graders’ national average math score dropped by eight points (from 282 to 274, out of a possible 500). Average reading scores for both grades fell, less dramatically, by three points. Scores in a group of large urban school districts fell by similar margins.

“The results in today’s Nation’s Report Card are appalling and unacceptable,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said, calling the report a “moment of truth for education.”

“How we respond to this will determine not only our recovery, but our nation’s standing in the world,” he added.

DeSantis’s announcement comes over one month after the release of a Heritage Foundation report, ranking the Sunshine State as #1 in the educational freedom category:

Speaking at an Education Freedom event over the weekend, DeSantis said that governors were forced to make decisions on how to handle their states when the Chinese coronavirus struck.

“We saw so many governors across the country that kept locking people down. In Florida, we decided to lift people up.
We protected people’s freedom, their right to work we saved hundreds of, thousands, if not millions of jobs. We made sure businesses could operate, and we were the first large state to say every single kid in this state has a right to be in school in person five days a week,” he said, reminding the audience of the backlash the state received from the establishment media and lockdown lobbyists.

“I looked at the data. I read the studies. I made sure that we were able to know, and it was obvious even — this was over two years ago now — that kids needed to be in school. The data was clear. It was fear. It was hysteria. It was media that was trying to tell people the opposite,” the governor said, explaining that he “didn’t know how it was going to work out in terms of politics or any of that stuff.”

“But you know, what a leader has to do is you got to put the best interests of the people you represent ahead or your own interests, and I was willing to take the arrows,” he said to applause. “I was willing to stand out and I was willing to fight for you and your families.”

“And contrast that to so many other states around this country who cruelly locked kids out of school, and sometimes over a year, that they have locked them out. And guess what? The people who are doing the locking out tend to send their kids to in-person tutoring or private school and the kids that got harmed were a lot of our low income families, and the learning loss and all the slowdown is going to be devastating for years and years and years to come,” he said, promising that Florida children will not “become a casualty of a culture of fear.”


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