Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed the bill he signed into law Wednesday that allows school districts to arm teachers for the first time during a rip to Tampa Bay on Thursday.
DeSantis was speaking at Mt. Moriah Christian Fundamental Academy School about a voucher program Thursday when he answered a question about SB 7030, the bill that he just signed into law Wednesday. The law requires 144 hours of training and a psychological exam before teachers can be armed.
“[That’s] more than you would get probably at the police department in terms of actual weapons training,” Gov. DeSantis said in response to a question from 8 On Your Side. “I can guarantee there are people that end up in Afghanistan who don’t have that much in our military. That’s not even close.”
He called the requirements to arm teachers under the school guardian program “very onerous” and said the entire bill has measures designed to make would-be school shooters think twice.
“It’s for people who have malevolent intent to know that schools are not going to be this soft target,” said DeSantis. “You do not choose to harm a school. And if you try that, you’re gonna face serious blowback from that.”
“Maybe that’s SROs, if there’s enough of those, fine. If there’s not, and that’s an option people want, maybe they choose to do it.”
School districts are not required to arm teachers, the law simply makes it an option if there are teachers who want to volunteer.
Previously, the guardian program was only open to people who don’t “exclusively perform classroom duties.”
“Just the fact that that’s possible, that tells me some of these people are gonna look at that and say, ‘you know what, this isn’t gonna be Parkland, where I can just walk in and all the adults flee,’ which was a total disgrace what happened there,” said DeSantis.
More money for charter and private school education
The governor was visiting the Tampa Bay area on Thursday to make more announcements about his administration’s education reforms, specifically the new Family Empowerment Scholarship.
The program gives scholarships from $6,000 – $9,000 depending on age and school for lower and middle-income students whose families make less than three times the federal poverty level. That equals $77,250 for a student living in a household of four.
Dynasia Woods broke down in tears during the event while speaking about her experience with a similar scholarship program.
“I was in danger of getting held back because of reading comprehension,” said Dynasia Woods, who went to Southside Christian, then Mt. Moriah and now attends St. Pete Catholic high school.
“And then when I went to….private school, it was more of a smaller class, meeting the teachers one-on-one. And it was better for me.”
DeSantis has prioritized transforming education in these first few months of his tenure in the governor’s mansion.
Eliminating common core, strengthening business partnerships with technical schools and revamping how those schools prepare students for real-world jobs have been just some of the changes DeSantis has already announced since taking office Jan. 8.
On Thursday, DeSantis will visit Mt. Moriah Christian Fundamental Academy in St. Petersburg. He will be joined by Florida Senate President Bill Galvano and several other state lawmakers.