FORT PIERCE, Fla — Elementary school students in Florida who are reading below grade level will now get a monthly book delivery to their homes to encourage early literacy.
Gov. Ron DeSantis held a ceremonial signing of HB3 Thursday in Fort Pierce in a show of commitment from the state to "tackle this problem head-on."
The bill creates the "New World's Reading Initiative" which delivers free books to students grades K-5 who are not reading at their grade level. Deliveries will come to the student's home on a monthly basis and will also include training materials for parents.
“This is really a big deal. We think that this will make a really big impact," DeSantis said.
Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and the Florida Department of Education will be selecting the "high quality" and diverse books for each grade.
A total of $270 million will go toward funding the initiative, according to the governor. While the majority of the money will go to supplying the books, some will also be used to establish things like continued statewide progress monitoring for grades K-8 and literacy coach boot camps.
“If you’re not proficient in reading after third grade the chance of you all of a sudden getting on the dime and doing well is very, very low. So, if we can get that – if we can get the proficiency we can improve outcomes down the line," the governor said.
Corcoran added that 61 percent of the homes the books will be going to, currently, do not have a single book for their student.
He added that he believes the initiative will give kids hope for their future and excite them monthly when they see the delivery arrive.
By 2030 the state is aiming to go from 50-percent of students on reading level by the third grade to 90-percent.
DeSantis said he is excited for a "normal school year" after the regulations COVID-19 implemented in schools. According to the governor, there is a federal push to continue masking students in classrooms, which he said he is against.
Instead, DeSantis says he wants parents to "equip their kid to go to school however they want."
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