Civics education prioritized in Florida schools: DeSantis signs legislation

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On Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 5, SB 1108 and HB 233 that will collectively strengthen civics instruction and civics literacy education in Florida’s kindergarten through postsecondary public schools.

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“I’m proud to sign three bills today that prioritize civics education in our schools,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “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.”

“Civics education is an extremely important component of a student’s educational journey,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “A well-rounded civics education that also includes an opportunity for students to participate in the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative gives these students an increased chance of meeting or exceeding college-readiness benchmarks, leading to almost 99 percent of them attending college and increasing the chance of being offered college scholarships. The legislation signed today is a huge step forward for our students, our state and our nation and I thank our legislators for their commitment to increasing students’ civics knowledge.”

The legislation is listed below:

House Bill 5: Civic Education Curriculum

House Bill 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 further expands required instruction in high school to include a comparative discussion of political ideologies that conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy essential to the founding principles of the United States, such as communism and totalitarianism. This bill 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..

Senate Bill 1108: Education

Senate Bill 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.

The bill further requires high school students to take a civic literacy assessment that has no high stakes consequences. If a high school student passes the test, that student is exempted from the postsecondary test requirement.

The bill also expands the character development curriculum for high school juniors and seniors to include instructions on how to register to vote.

House Bill 233: Postsecondary Education

House Bill 233 requires state colleges and universities to 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.

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