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Get the latest coverage of the 2021 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

DeSantis Signs Education Bills, Says Students Will Be Taught Communism Is Evil

Ron DeSantis speaking at a podium
Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantis announces the signing of education bills during an appearance at a Lee County middle school on June 22, 2021.

DeSantis said it is "abundantly clear" that the state needs to do a better job of teaching civics.

Civics education will be expanded in Florida, including instruction about communist and totalitarian governments, and state universities will be prevented from quashing conservative ideology.

It was among the education bills signed by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a Lee County middle school.

Two of the bills deal with civics education, the other guarantees the freedom of expression at state universities.

DeSantis said students need to be taught that communist and totalitarian governments are evil.

“I’m proud to sign three bills today that prioritize civics education in our schools,” DeSantis said in a news release. “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."

Added Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran: “Civics education is an extremely important component of a student’s educational journey. A well-rounded civics education that also includes an opportunity for students to participate in the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative gives these students an increased chance of meeting or exceeding college-readiness benchmarks, leading to almost 99% of them attending college and increasing the chance of being offered college scholarships."

DeSantis said universities are have become intellectually repressive environments and said a wide range of ideas not to be heard.

Under another bill, schools must soon follow stricter guidelines when it comes to restraining students with cognitive, developmental and behavioral disabilities.

The bipartisan bill will prohibit staff from forcing K-12 students who have disabilities to isolate in a room, a practice known as seclusion.

Under the measure, school staff must try to use positive behavior interventions before restraining a student who's a danger to themselves or others. It will also require video monitoring in classrooms with students who have disabilities upon receiving a written request from a student or parent.

"Students deserve to be safe at school, and parents deserve peace of mind," State Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, the bill's sponsor, wrote in a statement after the bill was enacted. "While the majority of our special education school professionals provide caring and safe learning environments for students with disabilities, we have unfortunately seen serious abuses committed as well.”

Another recently enacted bipartisan bill allows for higher payments to parents of infants born with a brain injury through the Neurological Injury Compensation Association. It also takes effect on July 1.

In addition, DeSantis signed a measure that will require high school freshmen and juniors to take one hour of instruction on how to administer CPR.

Under the measure, school districts will be required to provide one hour of “basic training in first aid, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation” to all students in ninth and eleventh grades.

School districts also will be “encouraged” to begin giving basic first-aid and CPR training to students in grade 6 and 8.

Information from WFSU News and News Service of Florida was used in this report.

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