Governor DeSantis Highlights Innovative Book Delivery Program During Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida!
CRAWFORDVILLE, FL (STL.News) Governor Ron DeSantis joined Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and Speaker Chris Sprowls at Riversink Elementary School in Wakulla County to highlight the New Worlds Reading Initiative – an innovative book-delivery program created through House Bill 3 during the 2021 Legislative Session and signed into law by Governor DeSantis in June 2021. At the event, Governor DeSantis announced that more than 81,000 students are already enrolled in the program and are receiving one free, hard-copy book per month to help improve their reading skills.
Throughout the week, the Florida Department of Education, in partnership with school districts, state agencies and organizations will recognize the 14th Annual Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! Events are scheduled throughout the week to inspire Florida’s students and families to make reading part of their daily routine and promote excellent reading habits in Florida students.
“One of the most important things we can do to put students on the path toward success is making sure they develop literacy skills early in life,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Our goal is to make Florida the number one state in the nation for literacy because the benefits of reading stay with our children for the rest of their lives. It was great to highlight a program today that has already begun delivering more than 80,000 books a month to students across our state.”
“If a child can read, they can learn. If they can learn, then anything is possible,” said Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls, who first pitched the New Worlds Reading Initiative during his November 2020 Organization Session speech. “I am extremely proud of the hard work of the Florida House and our partners in the Senate last session to ensure that every child has a home library and every parent has the resources they need to help their child experience new worlds through reading. Seeing thousands of students get excited about receiving their books each month is something to truly celebrate this Celebrate Literacy Week.”
“Literacy is foundational to learning and is one of the most pressing issues facing our students today,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “We need to celebrate and encourage literacy because it helps students unlock their true potential. After all, education is freedom – the great equalizer. I deeply appreciate Governor DeSantis’ focus on literacy and putting our students on a path to a great life.”
Foundational literacy skills are vital for students to succeed academically as research shows approximately 86% of students who struggle to read in grade 3 continue to struggle with literacy in grade 10. Governor DeSantis signed the New Worlds Reading Initiative into law in June 2021 and it is Florida’s first statewide book distribution program providing high-quality, free books to readers in grades K-5 on a monthly basis. Nearly $200 million is dedicated to this initiative, and the program began distributing books to enrolled students in December 2021.
With the New Worlds Reading Initiative, CARES ESSER I and CRRSA ESSER II funding, Governor DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran are building on tremendous investments already made in education:
- In May 2021, Governor DeSantis signed bills HB 419 and HB 7011, which allow districts to use existing allocations to fund intensive interventions for prekindergarten students, create a coordinated system of statewide literacy support and create a new initiative to recruit high school rising seniors to serve as literacy tutors for struggling K-3 students.
- Florida utilized $35 million in CARES Act funding last school year to support literacy initiatives:
- $20 million to help districts adopt and implement Florida’s new B.E.S.T. Standards as well as aligned curriculum and supplemental instructional materials to drive teaching and learning in reading for Grades K-3.
- $5 million to build capacity for reading by designing, disseminating and monitoring teacher and school leader professional development trainings.
- $5 million to deploy Regional Support Teams to support and reinforce professional development and coaching models used on a statewide basis.
- $5 million to develop and train Regional Literacy Coaches to provide support and guidance to district teachers in the classroom.
Florida is also investing over $80 million to fund and support other literacy initiatives aimed at improving student achievement:
- $61 million to support direct student interventions, including targeted individual or small group literacy tutoring for kindergarten and first-grade students.
- $15.8 million for a coordinated screening and statewide progress monitoring system.
- $4 million to provide elementary school principals and assistant principals with effective practices to help focus on improving literacy within their schools.
- $3 million for Literacy Coach Boot Camps to improve the skills and proficiency of literacy coaches.