Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Tuesday requiring high school students to learn about the evils of communist ideologies.
During a press conference at Three Oaks Middle School in Fort Myers, Florida, DeSantis signed three education bills designed to foster civic literacy in schools.
“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.”
Florida HB 5 adds a requirement to the high school government curriculum that students be taught the “evils of communism and totalitarian ideologies.”
“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.
The bill also contains a provision that will create a “Portraits and Patriotism Library,” the purpose of which is for students to learn about “real patriots” who came to America after fleeing communist and socialist regimes, DeSantis explained.
The governor also signed SB 1108, which requires state college and university students to take a civic literacy course and a civic literacy assessment as a graduation requirement, and HB 233, which requires colleges and universities to conduct annual assessments on the “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” at their institutions.
“It used to be thought that a university campus was a place you’d be exposed to a lot of different ideas,” DeSantis said. “Unfortunately now, the norm is really that these are more intellectually oppressive environments. You have orthodoxies that are promoted, and other viewpoints are shunned or even suppressed. 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,” he added.
The governor also touted the recent action his administration took to ban Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project from being taught in schools. “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 said.