Politics & Policy

Gov. DeSantis Proposes Plan to Bolster Florida’s Civics Curricula, Denounces Critical Race Theory

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at CPAC in Orlando, Fla., February 26, 2021. (Joe Skipper/Reuters)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday proposed putting $106 million in pandemic-related federal funding toward the state’s civics curricula — $17 million of which would be earmarked for developing civics curricula with “foundational concepts” and not “unsanctioned narratives like critical race theory.”

“Our schools are supposed to give people a foundation of knowledge, not supposed to be indoctrination centers, where you’re trying to push specific ideologies,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Naples, Fla.

“There is no room in classrooms for things like critical race theory,” the Republican governor said.

Critical race theory “presupposes that racism is embedded within society and institutions.” The theory’s implementation in classrooms nationwide has drawn outcry from parents, some of whom have received emails from their children’s schools about “Decentering Whiteness at Home” or have elementary-school aged children who have been read a book about whiteness” that suggests “color matters” and encourages them to dissect “the painful truth” about their “own family,” regarding potential racist behavior.

In September, former president Trump issued an executive order requiring federal agencies to “cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund” critical race theory training programs which he called “divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions.”

DeSantis suggested a civics education should turn down the heat in the U.S., which is increasingly divided by politics by giving everyone a common foundation of values.

“No matter if your family came on the Mayflower or you became a naturalized citizen, these principles belong to you,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis outlined his plan, which would direct the Florida Department of Education to create the Florida Civic Seal of Excellence, a new professional endorsement for civics education. The proposal includes a $3,000 bonus for teachers who get credentialed in teaching civics.

The funding would put $16.5 million toward training teachers and principals in civics education via civics “coaches,” in-person seminars and virtual learning.

Around $6.5 million would be used for developing partnerships between schools and governments in an effort to get students interested in public service.

The governor called on the legislature to take up the proposal during the current legislative session.

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