ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran says the state is making strides in recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers in the state.

  • Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran in Orlando Tuesday
  • He's encouraging districts to put teacher retention, recruitment upfront
  • Corcoran said he, DeSantis focused on addressing shortage challenges

Corcoran spoke with Spectrum News Tuesday during a visit at Orange County Public Schools’ Center for Academic Excellence in Orlando.

Corcoran was joined by Teacher of the Year Dre Graham in reading to a class of students and highlighting the work of the state’s more than 185,000 teachers.

Spectrum News has previously reported on the growing challenge of hiring teachers, with more than 3,500 teacher openings weeks before the starting of this 2019-2020 school year. That includes several hundred openings across Central Florida.

Florida Department of Education says the greatest need for teachers is in the areas of science, English, and math.

Corcoran is encouraging districts to put teacher retention and recruitment upfront.

“I think a lot of it is fiscal management,” Corcoran said. “What we’re trying to do on a state level, and what I think local districts should do, is figure out the way to put resources and energies into having world-class teachers in front of students, because we know that’s the greatest determinative outcome.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed lawmakers in his inaugural term to provide $480 million to provide $9,000 pay raises for approximately 45,000 high-performing teachers.

The Florida Department of Education is also using a $16 million grant to recruit and retain teachers for high-need schools.

Corcoran said he and DeSantis are focused on addressing the shortage challenges.

“What (DeSantis) has said on those three things — accountability, competition, and quality teachers —he has hinted quite a lot lately that he wants to do something dramatic to increase opportunity for recruitment and retaining quality teachers and as he says, celebrate, and elevate their profession,” Corcoran said.