DeSantis signs trio of bills on civics education in K-12 schools, and freedom of speech in postsecondary education
Specifically, HB 5 requires the Florida Department of Education to develop an integrated K-12 civic education curriculum that includes teaching students about citizens’ shared rights under the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The measure also adds a requirement for public high schools to “include 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.”
In short, high schools must provide “instruction on the evils of communism and totalitarian ideology,” DeSantis said, noting that there are Florida residents who have escaped totalitarian regimes and communist dictatorships, such as from Cuba and Vietnam, to live in America.
“We want all students to understand the difference,” he said. “Why would somebody flee across shark-infested waters … why would people leave these countries and risk their lives to be able to come here? It’s important that students understand that.”
HB 5 will also provide a “Portraits in Patriotism” library with resources that include personal stories of “real patriots who came to this country after seeing the horrors of these communist regimes,” DeSantis said.
The Republican governor also signed SB 1108, which requires state college and university students to undergo both a civic literacy course and a civic literacy assessment in order to graduate. Prior to this bill, students were only required to do one—either the course or the assessment.
High school students will also be required to take a civic literacy assessment. If they pass the test, they will be exempted from taking a civics test in college or university.
The bill also expands a “character development curriculum” for high school juniors and seniors to include instructions on how to register to vote.