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Florida’s worsening teacher shortage; PragerU for K-12 schools; vouchers for all

Keith Srakocic
AP file

Many children will head back to classrooms next week. Meanwhile, school districts across the state are still trying to fill vacancies.

Most of the U.S. is dealing with a teacher shortage in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Florida has one of the worst in the nation. We look at the factors behind the shortage and what some districts are doing to attract and retrain educators.


  • Jeff Solochek, education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. (Note: Jeff joins us for the full hour.)
  • Kate Payne, WLRN’s education reporter. 

PragerU approved for K-12 schools 

The Florida Department of Education has approved educational materials from a conservative nonprofit company: PragerU.

The supplemental teaching materials include videos, cartoons and shows that promote conservative values. While teaching materials are optional for school districts, the decision to approve them is raising concerns from some educators.

We speak to PragerU’s CEO, Marissa Streit, to learn more about the content of these lessons and include a portion for that conversation here.


  • Ana Ceballos, politics and policy reporter for the Miami Herald.

Vouchers for all 

Back in March, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a major expansion of school vouchers into law. School choice advocates hailed the move as empowering parents to pick the education they want for their children. But critics worry about the price tag, with estimates for the Family Empowerment Scholarship in the billions.

Step Up for Students, the organization that administers state scholarships, anticipates tens of thousands of more applications for the vouchers.

So who’s taking advantage of these scholarships, and what effect could it have on funding for public education?


  • Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up for Students. 
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Bridget O’Brien is an award-winning, versatile audio producer with more than eight years of experience in radio, audience engagement and storytelling across a diverse range of outlets. You can reach Bridget at bobrien@wjct.org.