NAPLES, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that he wants the state to allocate $106 million toward turning the state into the “national leader in civics education.” He announced the plan during a news conference in Naples.
The proposal creates a civics seal of excellence for teachers who want more training. Those who complete it will receive a $3,000 bonus. DeSantis said $16.5 million will fund the training aspect, adding that understanding the U.S. Constitution is “a lost art.”
“Instead, they engage in these politicized academic fads,” he said.
The Republican governor pointed out that the curriculum will not include critical race theory, an intellectual movement that focuses on the effects that historical racism has had on modern life. Civil rights scholars have also used it to address other types of discrimination.
“Teaching kids to hate their country and hate each other is not worth one red cent,” DeSantis said.
Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Miami-Dade County Public Schools doesn’t teach the curriculum that DeSantis alluded to. Carvalho also said civics is already a state-required course for seventh-grade students.
“We do not politicize our teaching,” Carvalho said. “We do not allow idealogy to permeate into our classrooms.”
Carvalho also didn’t think DeSantis’ idea requiring seniors to pass a civics test similar to the one people take to become naturalized American citizens is necessary.
“We ought to embrace fewer testing and more teaching,” Carvalho said.
DeSantis urged the state legislature to take up his proposal by using funds that are already available through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) provided to the state through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and subsequent federal appropriations.
DeSantis said the curriculum’s graduation requirement wouldn’t take effect until two years from now.
“Having graduating kids with the foundational knowledge to understand what makes America unique, understand the principles that people have fought for is really, really important,” DeSantis said.
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