Gov. Ron DeSantis believes our collective understanding of civics is abysmal.
DeSantis said as much Thursday at Ridgeview High School in Orange Park as he touted the state’s civics education program. He and Florida Department of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz awarded seven Clay County teachers $3,000 checks for completing a Civics Seal of Excellence program.
DeSantis said civics education may be the solution to social divisions across America. He asserted that civics education allows students to debate and discuss areas beyond their comfort zone.
“We’ve also emphasized the idea that teaching people about the American experiment is important,” DeSantis said. “We also want to give them a frame of reference so that they can better appreciate what we have here in America.”
During remarks in front of students, supporters, educators and members of Moms For Liberty, DeSantis indicated he would like to mandate a civics education test either in secondary or undergraduate level.
“It gives students the ability to have their assumptions challenged. It gives them the ability to be able to put ideas out there and defend them with logic,” DeSantis said. “And, we need a little bit more of that. I mean so much of the stuff that gets spewed in our political sphere nowadays is just nonsense.”
This was not the first time DeSantis and Diaz visited Northeast Florida to talk about education. In January, the pair discussed teacher pay and African American studies curriculum. Last July, they touted a $6 million civics education program at community colleges.
The Civics Seal of Excellence was launched in January. Since then, more than 4,500 teachers have completed the 50-hour course, which includes modules on American government and citizenship that are taught by professors at Hillsdale College, a conservative liberal arts institution in Michigan, and lessons on religious liberty and church-state relations in colonial America by a professor at George Fox University, a Christian university in Oregon.
“We can continue to educate all of our teachers, regardless of their certificate, regardless of what subject they teach,” Diaz said. “Because this civics is so important that it has to be embedded across our curriculum. It is our American way of life.”