Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed three bills into law on Tuesday aimed at civics education – including a bill that requires the state Department of Education to teach students the evils of communism.
The effort is also aimed at improving American civics education.
During a news conference at the signing of the bills, DeSantis said, “It’s crucial to ensure that we teach our students how to be responsible citizens. They need to have a good working knowledge of American history, American government and the principles that underline our Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
What Is Included In The New Legislation?
H.B. 5 calls for the Florida Department of Education to create a curriculum for K-12 students that includes expanded teaching of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and instruction on comparative political ideologies.
S.B. 1108 would require state college and university students to take a civic literacy course and assessment in order to graduate.
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H.B. 233 requires public universities in Florida to conduct annual assessments on intellectual freedom and “viewpoint diversity.” In order to gauge this, a survey endorsed by the State Board of Education or the Board of Governors of the State University System will be used to evaluate freedom of speech on college campuses.
Of H.B. 233, DeSantis said, “You have orthodoxies that are promoted, and other viewpoints are shunned or even suppressed. We don’t want that in Florida, you need to have a true contest of ideas, students should not be shielded from ideas and we want robust First Amendment speech on our college and university campuses.”
What Opponents Are Saying About The New Bills
The voices of those opposed to Ron DeSantis’ focus on education reform began to get louder earlier this month when he backed the Florida Board of Education’s decision earlier this month to ban the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) in Florida schools.
At the time, DeSantis stated, “We do not want curriculum that is judging students based on their race, and we do not want false history.” Critics of DeSantis said that it is, “an attempt to whitewash history, and keep conversations about race out of schools.”
Head of the Florida Education Association Andrew Spar said of the decision to ban CRT and the new education legislation were “political and unnecessary.” He also stated the claim that CRT is not currently being taught in Florida schools.
Mark Ferrulo, spokesman for a group called Progress Florida, a progressive group that promotes progressive ideas online, says that DeSantis and Florida Republicans are “manufacturing fake controversies.”
Parents Have Begun To Fight Back
Parents not just in Florida, but all over the nation have begun to push back on what they believe to be overreach on the part of their local school boards.
Parents have begun to aggressively question things like mask requirements, especially for younger children, and have, in light of curriculums that included things like The 1619 Project and critical race theory, are paying much more attention to who gets elected to their school board, and what goes on at school board meetings.
Loudon County, Virginia school board meetings have become known nation wide as a place where parents have become extremely vocal about things like CRT being taught in their schools, and most recently, a teacher who was suspended for not using pronouns preferred by transgender students, saying it violated his religious beliefs.
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