By Cassandra Fairbanks
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that will require high schools in the state to teach students the “evils of Communism and Totalitarian ideologies.”
The move comes two weeks after he banned Critical Race Theory from being taught in their schools, saying “we do not want curriculum that is judging students based on their race and we do not want false history like you see with the 1619 Project.”
DeSantis signed three new education related bills while holding a press conference at Three Oaks Middle School in Fort Myers, Florida on Tuesday.
“It’s crucial to ensure that we teach our students how to be responsible citizens,” DeSantis said during the press conference. “They need to have a good working knowledge of American history, American government and the principles that underline our Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
DeSantis explained that the state has many people who have escaped from these brutal forms of government.
“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 life to be able to come here. It’s important students understand that,” DeSantis said.
A provision in the bill also creates a “Portraits and Patriotism Library,” for students to learn about “real patriots” who came to America after fleeing communist and socialist regimes in places like Cuba, Nicaragua and Vietnam.
A second bill he signed, SB 1108, requires state college and university students to take a civic literacy course and a civic literacy assessment as a graduation requirement.
The third, HB 233, seeks to protect the freedom of speech on campuses by requiring colleges and universities to conduct annual assessments on the “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” at their institutions. It also prohibits the State Board of Education from shielding students, staff and faculty from certain speech
“You have orthodoxies that are promoted, and other viewpoints are shunned or even suppressed,” DeSantis said. “We don’t want that in Florida, you need to have a true contest of ideas, students should not be shielded from ideas and we want robust First Amendment speech on our college and university campuses.”
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