Florida Department of Education considers adding military hero worship to state civics courses

The State Board of Education on Wednesday will consider adopting a proposal aimed at reshaping the way civic education is taught in public schools, culminating an effort set in motion by lawmakers this spring.

Making changes that inject patriotism into the curriculum was a priority of top Republican lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis during the legislative session that ended April 30.

DeSantis signed a measure (HB 5) into law in June that called for giving Florida students an “understanding of the civic-minded expectations, developed by the State Board of Education, of an upright and desirable citizenry that recognizes and accepts responsibility for preserving and defending the blessings of liberty inherited from prior generations and secured by the United States Constitution.”

A proposed rule that the state board will consider Wednesday, in part, deals with directing the state Department of Education to require students to understand America’s founding documents, something DeSantis touted when he signed the measure.

“Understanding the Bill of Rights, understanding other key amendments to the Constitution, understanding the differences between (the) federal and state Constitution,” DeSantis said during a bill-signing event. “There’s all these different things that I think are fundamental.”

The proposed rule, which would update curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grade, also involves instilling patriotic values in schoolchildren.

For instance, the proposed rule lays out several characteristics of what would make students an “upright and desirable” citizen.

The proposal says that such a citizen should display “civic virtue and self-government that promotes the success of the United States constitutional republic through personal responsibility, civility, and respect in political, social, and religious discourse and lawful civic engagement.”

The proposed rule also says a desirable citizen respects “the military, elected officials, civic leaders, public servants, and all those who have defended the blessings of liberty in pursuit of the common good, even at personal risk.”

A separate part of the proposal says upright citizens appreciate “the price paid by previous generations to secure the blessings of liberty and why it is the responsibility of current and future generations to preserve it.”

If the proposal is adopted by the state board, filled with DeSantis appointees, Florida students also will be taught that that “political ideologies, such as communism and totalitarianism, conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy essential to preserving the United States constitutional republic.”

The law that triggered the proposed rule also directed the Department of Education to create a video library that includes first-person accounts of “victims of other nations' governing philosophies” with the goal of comparing those philosophies to that of the U.S.

The proposal being weighed Wednesday looks to build on curriculum standards for civics, government and other subject areas adopted by the state board in July.

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