After Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed legislation that prohibits the teaching of critical race theory in Florida’s public school system, this week he signed into law three bills that will collectively strengthen civics literacy education in the state’s kindergarten through postsecondary public schools.
During the press conference Governor DeSantis said, “The sad reality is that only two in five Americans can correctly name the three branches of government, and more than a third of Americans cannot name any of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. It is abundantly clear that we need to do a much better job of educating our students in civics to prepare them for the rest of their lives.”
“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,” said DeSantis.
DeSantis explained why it is imperative Americans not only learn about civics but also the evils of truly oppressive regimes like communism.
The governor said, “We have a number of people in Florida, particularly southern Florida, who’ve escaped totalitarian regimes, who’ve escaped communist dictatorships to be able to come to America. We want all students to understand the difference: Why would somebody flee across shark-infested waters, say, leaving from Cuba to come to southern Florida? Why would somebody leave a place like Vietnam? Why would people leave these countries and risk their lives to be able to come here? It’s important students understand that.”
The first bill, HB 5, requires the Florida Department of Education to create an integrated K-12 civic education curriculum that includes an understanding of citizens’ shared rights and responsibilities under the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It also requires public K-12 schools to teach students about communism, totalitarianism, and other political systems that “conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy essential to the founding principles of the United States.”
HB 5 also provides a library of “Portraits in Patriotism” based on personal stories of diverse individuals who demonstrate civic minded qualities, including those who have moved to this country after being persecuted in nations like Cuba and Venezuela. “Portraits in Patriotism” library will ensure students learn about “real patriots” who came to America after fleeing those oppressive regimes.
HB 233 will help protect students’ free speech and require that all state colleges and universities “conduct annual assessments of the viewpoint diversity and intellectual freedom at their institutions to ensure that Florida’s postsecondary students will be shown diverse ideas and opinions, including those that they may disagree with or find uncomfortable.”
SB 1108 requires state college and state university students to take both a civic literacy course and a civic literacy assessment as a graduation requirement, bridging civics education between our high schools and postsecondary institutions. If a high school student passes the test, that student is exempted from the postsecondary test requirement. This bill also expands the character development curriculum for high school juniors and seniors to include instructions on how to register to vote.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “We commend Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislators for helping to ensure that students in Florida are learning the foundations and principles that enable Americans to exercise religious freedom and free speech. Communism and oppressive regimes are un-American and the antithesis to freedom.”
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(SOURCE: Liberty Counsel)