DeSantis Signs Bill on Civics, ‘Intellectual Freedom’

DeSantis Signs Bill on Civics, ‘Intellectual Freedom’

By Ryan Dailey, The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Saying he wants Florida to be the “number-one state for civic literacy,” Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed bills aimed at boosting civics education in public schools and gauging “intellectual freedom” on college campuses.

During a bill-signing event at a Fort Myers middle-school library, DeSantis capped some of his priorities from the legislative session that ended April 30 — emphasizing patriotism in civics instruction and fighting what he describes as “indoctrination” in education.

“Ultimately, these kids will probably all do different pathways in life,” DeSantis said, flanked by students and Republican bill sponsors. “All of those people are going to be citizens, they’re all going to be part of making sure that our country is able to preserve the freedoms that we possess.”

The first measure the governor highlighted (HB 5) was only three pages long but will seek to reshape the way civics is taught to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The bill, set to go into effect July 1, will direct the state Department of Education to develop a civics curriculum that aims to “assist students in developing” an understanding of four concepts, including the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen.

The bill also describes a goal for the curriculum to develop a “sense of civic pride and desire to participate regularly with government at the local, state and federal levels.” It also aims to teach  about advocating before the government and an understanding of the “civic-minded expectations” of an “upright and desirable citizenry” as defined by the State Board of Education.

The measure also will revise social-studies requirements for high school graduation to include in U.S. Government courses “a comparative discussion of political ideologies, such as communism and totalitarianism, that conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy essential to the founding principles of the United States.”

The Department of Education also will be directed to create a video library dubbed “Portraits In Patriotism.” The video library will include “first-person accounts of victims of other nations’ governing philosophies who can compare those philosophies with those of the United States.”

House Speaker Chris Sprowls, a Palm Harbor Republican who backed the measure during the legislative session, appeared at Tuesday’s event and touted the part of the bill creating a video library.

“No matter how many times you read something in a book, it just doesn’t come alive the same way when you’re sitting with someone or talking to them,” Sprowls said.

DeSantis also on Tuesday signed a measure (SB 1108) requiring state college and university students to take a civic literacy course and assessment as a graduation requirement.

The measure also will require high school students to take a civic literacy exam that DeSantis said “doesn’t have high-stakes consequences,” but students who pass the test will be exempt from taking the newly required civics assessment in college.

Of the three measures DeSantis signed Tuesday, the most controversial was a bill (HB 233) geared toward gauging “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” at colleges and universities.

The measure will require the state university system’s Board of Governors and the State Board of Education to create an “objective, nonpartisan and statistically valid survey.” The survey will be given to students, faculty and staff at the schools, and the resulting data will be published.

“It used to be thought that a university campus was a place where you’d be exposed to a lot of different ideas. Unfortunately now, the norm is really, these are intellectually repressive environments,” DeSantis said, adding that “students should not be shielded from ideas.”

But the progressive organization Florida Watch criticized DeSantis’ signing of the measure, saying the governor is “focusing on non-existent issues rather than confronting the real problems” facing Floridians.

“Instead, Governor DeSantis and Republicans in the Legislature spent this session targeting our public universities with partisan attacks,” the group’s Executive Director Josh Weierbach said in part of a statement.

DeSantis, however, contended that the bills collectively seek to teach concepts that are “foundational” to a complete civics education.

“Understanding the Bill of Rights, understanding other key amendments to the Constitution, understanding the differences between federal and state Constitution,” DeSantis said. “There’s all these different things that I think are fundamental.”

5 Responses to "DeSantis Signs Bill on Civics, ‘Intellectual Freedom’"

  1. In general, I think it is a good idea to encourage civic participation. As an environmentalist, I try to engage young people in non-profits whose mission is to protect water, wetlands, native animals, fight invasive plants, etc. It is very difficult to bring younger people into structured organizations that may have a chance of impacting government through education and advocacy. A good understanding of how government works and why we should pay attention and contribute is fundamental to the success of our democracy. How this can play out in Florida remains to be seen. I am keeping an open mind. All too often, I witness children being brainwashed by their parents into a particular philosophy. The purpose of education is to offer a smörgåsbord of ideas for personal evaluation, in proper context, without bias. This is difficult, and cannot be achieved without some critique of our own values and system. Yes, we want our children to become “free” thinkers, and this needs to incorporate critical thinking as well as personal experience with government, both local and national. Personal experience can only be acquired through participation. Our best hope is that our future generation will be participants in very active ways instead of merely observers and commentators.

  2. Kudos to Governor DeSantis for requiring our children be taught Critical Reality Theory, as oppose to the anti-America divisive and hate propaganda being pushed by the DemoKKKrats, their Media PACs, and the Big Tech puppets of the CCP.

  3. This is excellent. We need to stop the Marxist indoctrination of our students and start teaching them about the greatness of America.

    There are great conversations about this topic (and other topics) on Steve Bannon’s War Room.

  4. The Govorner’s other big bill, the one on attempting reign in big tech for cancelling users of Twitter and other platforms, is going before Federal Judge Hinkle 3 days prior to the laws scheduled implementation.
    If anyone out there seriously thinks uber leftist Hinkle is not going to pull some twisted pretzel shaped non logical stinky BS out of his uber leftist back side to stop the law from being implemented in Florida then I feel very sorry for those peoples mental state. Just watch … Hinkle does it every time.
    I can hear you guys now “well Snidely you dont know that – maybe Hinkle will be fair and do his job this time correctly” … not gonna happen this time, just like every time in the past, and just like every time in the future.
    Nope not gonna happen.

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