Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed multiple bills on Tuesday aimed at increasing the level of civics education throughout the state’s schools.
“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,” DeSantis said when explaining the need for the legislation.
The first piece of legislation, HB 5, alters the civics curriculum and requirements for K-12 schools. In elementary grades, students will be taught a “sense of civic pride and desire to participate regularly with government at the local, state and federal levels” and “rights and responsibilities of being a citizen.” In high school, students must take a comparative discussion of political ideologies that conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy essential to the country, such as communism and totalitarianism.
The other two bills focus on colleges and universities throughout the state.
SB 1108 requires students to pass a civic literacy course and a civic literacy assessment in order to graduate — if the student did not pass the test in high school.
Lastly, HB 233 orders colleges and universities to conduct “viewpoint diversity and intellectual freedom” assessments, aimed at promoting diversity of thought and opinion.
“We are fortunate to live in the greatest country the world has ever known. We aren’t perfect, but the freedom available to every American stands in stark contrast to the dangerous ideologies that produce corrupt regimes in other countries,” Senate President Wilton Simpson said.
DeSantis argued that each piece of legislation is meant to fight “indoctrination” in educational practices.
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