DeSantis, America’s best governor, just threw down the gauntlet on pro-communism rhetoric in schools

As a former public high school social studies teacher, I am well aware that students are being indoctrinated with the patently false belief that communism is moral and capitalism is immoral.

Obviously, that is a total farce.

However, it is working. According to a plethora of recent polls, most young Americans now have a favorable opinion of communism/socialism. What’s more, most of America’s youth also hold capitalism (and freedom) in contempt. 

That is a very dangerous threat to the future of a free and prosperous America.

Fortunately, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sees the writing on the wall. Such is why Mr. DeSantis recently signed a legislative package aiming to ensure that Sunshine State students learn the unvarnished truth about communism, as well as the benefits of capitalism and freedom.

According to Mr. DeSantis, “I’m proud to sign three bills today that prioritize civics education in our schools.”

He added, “The sad reality is that only two in five Americans can correctly name the three branches of government, and more than a third of Americans cannot name any of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. It is abundantly clear that we need to do a much better job of educating our students in civics to prepare them for the rest of their lives.”

The three bills signed by Mr. DeSantis take an all-encompassing approach to reform the sad state of civics education in Florida.

First, HB 5 “requires the Florida Department of Education to create an integrated K-12 civic education curriculum that includes an understanding of citizens’ shared rights and responsibilities under the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It further expands required instruction in high school to include a comparative discussion of political ideologies that conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy essential to the founding principles of the United States, such as communism and totalitarianism. This bill also provides a library of ‘Portraits in Patriotism’ based on personal stories of diverse individuals who demonstrate civic minded qualities, including those who have moved to this country after being persecuted in nations like Cuba and Venezuela.”

Second, SB 1108 “requires state college and state university students to take both a civic literacy course and a civic literacy assessment as a graduation requirement, bridging civics education between our high schools and postsecondary institutions. The bill further requires high school students to take a civic literacy assessment that has no high stakes consequences. … The bill also expands the character development curriculum for high school juniors and seniors to include instructions on how to register to vote.”

Third, HB 233 “requires state colleges and universities to conduct annual assessments of the viewpoint diversity and intellectual freedom at their institutions to ensure that Florida’s postsecondary students will be shown diverse ideas and opinions, including those that they may disagree with or find uncomfortable.”

All three of these laws address the fundamental lie that has infiltrated civics education over the past few years: Individualism is bad, collectivism is good.

Moreover, they also address an even more concerning problem that is part and parcel to the education system as a whole: teaching students what to think, not how to think.

As Florida state Sen. Ray Rodrigues (R-Lee County) put it, “We have a responsibility to teach students how to think for themselves rather than indoctrinating them on what to think. Without a measurement of intellectual diversity, it is impossible to know if Florida taxpayers are providing an education or an indoctrination. Gov. DeSantis understands the difference and I am grateful for his commitment to ensuring viewpoint diversity exists on our campuses.”

This sentiment was echoed by Florida state Rep. Spencer Roach (R-Fort Myers), who said, “When educational institutions place a premium on people that look different but think the same, that’s not diversity — that’s conformity. I thank Gov. DeSantis for ensuring that Florida’s 12 state universities and 28 state colleges will foster ideological competition and diversity of viewpoint to make all campuses a true marketplace of ideas. Florida students deserve nothing less.”

Ronald Reagan warned us, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Bravo to Mr. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for their willingness to fight bravely in this monumental battle for the heart and soul of America’s future. Hopefully, this is just the beginning. It is time for more bold leaders to do the same.

• Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is senior editor at The Heartland Institute.

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