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Governor Ron DeSantis Highlights Computer Science and STEM Achievements in Pinellas County

LARGO, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis visited Ridgecrest Elementary School in Pinellas County to highlight computer science education and the significant achievements of local students in STEM fields. The school currently hosts a summer camp that is part of the Pinellas County School District’s STEM Academies program.

The Governor was joined by Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, Senate President Bill Galvano, Senator Travis Hutson and Representative Amber Mariano as well as representatives from Code.org and Microsoft. Last year, Ridgecrest Elementary School earned national recognition and certification as an exemplary magnet school. The school places a major focus on STEM learning experiences for students.

“Florida’s students need access to educational opportunities to learn skills that will make them competitive in the modern economy and today’s high-skilled, high-wage jobs,” said Governor DeSantis. “That’s why I’ve made career and technical education a centerpiece of my education agenda and recommended we set-aside $10 million to train, recruit and retain computer science teachers. Thanks to the Florida Legislature delivering on my request, we have now fast-tracked our effort to get students learning computer science.”

“Governor DeSantis continues to make good on his promise to advocate for and implement transformative policies that empower teachers and students,” said Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. “Florida’s robust economy demands a top-notch workforce, and these improvements to our education system will make sure teachers have the computer science skills needed to prepare our students to meet the constantly-evolving modern workforce. HB 7071 takes into account the best interests of Florida’s students and the businesses who rely on them.”

“I am grateful to Governor DeSantis for his leadership in working with the Florida Legislature to prioritize computer science education in our schools,” said Florida Senate President Bill Galvano. “We recognize the value and the necessity of computer science in preparing students for the global economy. Technological advancements are opening new doors for our students to pursue innovative pathways to the traditional careers our communities need to thrive, and also to pioneer exciting new occupations that will help Florida continue to prosper. My colleagues and I look forward to continuing to work with Governor DeSantis to make certain our students have every opportunity to succeed.”

“Ensuring each and every student across our state has access to opportunity – regardless of their chosen path – is a giant step toward unlocking the American dream for so many more Floridians,” said Senator Travis Hutson. “This is one of the largest one-time investments we have made specifically for training, recruiting and retaining dedicated computer science teachers. Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ leadership, I believe these advances are just the beginning of fully empowering our students to succeed.”

“This legislative session was a tremendous victory for the students of the Sunshine State,” said Representative Amber Mariano. “I’m proud of the work my colleagues and I have done alongside the Governor to give our students the opportunity to learn new skills and technical training in computer science which can lead to successful careers in the future.”

“Expanding access to computer science learning is critically important for the future of Florida’s students,” said Sheela VanHoose of Code.org. “This historic investment by the Governor and the Florida Legislature represents the nation’s largest one-time investment in computer science teachers by a state.”

“Providing the tools that students need to learn computer science is crucial to filling the jobs of tomorrow,” said Fred Humphries, Corporate Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs at Microsoft. “We applaud Governor DeSantis for approving crucial funding to help train more computer science teachers as part of a broader commitment to prepare students for the thousands of computing and data science jobs in Florida. Microsoft looks forward to continuing to work with Governor DeSantis to ensure that all students are ready for the career opportunities created by our digital economy.”

Legislators who joined the Governor at Ridgecrest Elementary included:

Senate President Bill Galvano, Republican, Florida’s 21st Senate District.
Senator Wilton Simpson, Republican, Florida’s 10th Senate District.
Senator Travis Hutson, Republican, Florida’s 7th Senate District.
Senator Ed Hooper, Republican, Florida’s 16th Senate District.
Senator Kelli Stargel, Republican, Florida’s 22nd Senate District.
Representative Chris Sprowls, Republican, Florida’s 65th House District.
Representative Chris Latvala, Republican, Florida’s 67th House District.
Representative Wengay Newton, Republican, Florida’s 70th House District.
Representative Jennifer Webb, Democrat, Florida’s 69th House District.
Representative Adam Hattersley, Democrat, Florida’s 59th House District.
Representative Amber Mariano, Republican, Florida’s 36th House District.
Representative Ardian Zika, Republican, Florida’s 37th House District.
Representative Susan Valdes, Democrat, Florida’s 62nd House District.
Representative Jaime Grant, Republican, Florida’s 64th House District.

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