DeSantis Signs Curriculum Related Bills | News, Sports, Jobs

Governor Ron DeSantis

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Speaking at Three Oaks Middle School in Fort Myers on Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the signing of three new laws governing the teaching of civics and history in Florida classrooms.

While two of the laws received unanimous support in the State House and Senate, a third relating to diversity of views and intellectual freedom on state college campuses proved to be more confrontational. – passing to the Senate by a vote of 23 to 15 and to the House by a vote of 77-42.

The College Education Bill, known as HB233, requires the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors to annually assess intellectual freedom and diversity of viewpoints on campus. of State. The law also prohibits the state and its public universities from protecting students from ideas and opinions they might find offensive. The law defines intellectual freedom and the diversity of points of view as “A variety of ideological and political perspectives”.

The bills require the National Board of Education to select or create “An objective, non-partisan, statistically valid survey for each institution to use that examines the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented and members of the college community, including students, faculty and staff, feel free express their beliefs and views on campus and in the classroom.

The board would publish its school ratings each year based on the survey.

At the press conference, DeSantis criticized those who support socialism or communism and expressed support for school curricula which, under one of the new laws passed, will talk about those who fled countries that had repressive totalitarian regimes.

DeSantis criticized what he saw as a crackdown on free speech at some colleges.

“It used to be that a college campus was a place where you were exposed to a lot of different ideas. Unfortunately, now the norm is really, these are more intellectually repressive environments. You have orthodoxies that are promoted and other points of view are shunned or even suppressed. We don’t want that in Florida. It takes a real competition of ideas. Students should not be immune to ideas ”, DeSantis said.

DeSantis said he wanted state universities to focus on critical thinking and “Academic rigor. We don’t want them as hotbeds of state ideology.

For State Senator Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, whose district encompasses most of Lee County, including Cape Coral and Fort Myers Beach, the value of “Diversity of points of view” in colleges was important. Rodrigues, who works as a budget officer at Florida Gulf Coast University, said “We have a responsibility to teach students how to think for themselves rather than indoctrinating them on what to think. Without a measure of intellectual diversity, it is impossible to know whether Florida taxpayers are providing education or indoctrination.

Rodrigues worked on drafting the language for the college education bill with Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, whose district includes Lehigh Acres and parts of northern Lee County.

“When educational institutions place a high value on people who look different but think the same thing, it’s not diversity, it’s conformity.” Roach said.

The bill was challenged by Senator Lori Berman, D-Lantana, who said “This law is another way for conservative Republicans to indoctrinate their political supporters into believing their voices are being stifled on college campuses. Laws like this only fan the flames of the cultural wars that divide us instead of focusing on policies that improve higher education and people’s lives.

Berman said colleges are already required to allow students to express their views.

“It’s called the First Amendment,” said Berman. “Forcing all public colleges and universities to conduct an annual assessment of the range of views of their faculty, students and staff will only increase the risk that the most vulnerable will be marginalized and ridiculed. “

One of the bills passed unanimously is Bill 5, which requires the Department of Education to create an integrated civic curriculum that will help students develop “An understanding of their shared rights and responsibilities as state residents and of the founding principles of the United States.”

DeSantis also signed Senate Bill 1108, which requires high school and state college students to take a civic literacy assessment to graduate.

The bill also sets a number of requirements for learning and graduation, including the number of English courses and the requirements for passing the SAT and ACT tests.

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

Lee County Schools Acting Superintendent Dr Ken Savage, who also attended the governor’s announcement as he was surrounded by students from Lee County College Debate Teams, said “The bills you sign today will put them on the right path to becoming engaged citizens, learning to negotiate different perspectives, and to productively engage with one another. “

DeSantis said more would be announced regarding civic education elements of the bills, including bonuses for civic education teachers.

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