Florida launches K-12 civic literacy initiative

Glasses, books, pencils on table in front of black board
Glasses, books, pencils on table in front of black board

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants Florida K-12 students to know the basics of how the government operates and important moments in history that have shaped the United States.

On Tuesday, during a press conference at BridgePrep Academy in Palm Beach, DeSantis announced that the state will invest $106 million into establishing a Civic Literacy Excellence initiative.

DeSantis said large percentages of the population are not able to identify the branches of government, key information about the founding fathers of America, and key ideas in the Bill of Rights.

“It doesn’t matter whether some will go into business or medicine or construction or hospitality,” DeSantis said. “But everyone is going to be called upon to exercise the duties of citizenship. We’ve got to do better as a society.”

The governor said $65 million of the funds will go toward creating and implementing the Florida Civics Seal of Excellence training, which is a new professional licensure certification for teachers in civics education.

DeSantis said the certification will not only support teachers of civics but teachers of other subjects who incorporate that knowledge into other subject areas.

Educators who complete training and earn the Civics Seal of Excellence endorsement will receive a $3,000 bonus.

The initiative also directs $16.5 million toward additional training, professional development and classroom support for principals and teachers who want to elevate civics education in their classrooms.

A team of regional civics coaches will be in place to provide support for teachers who are building and expanding civics programs.

Another $17.5 million is earmarked to reinforce Florida’s civics curriculum and add it to Florida’s B.E.S.T. standards for K-12 public schools.

A career pathway program that will launch pilot programs for public service incubators will receive $6.5 million with a goal of developing partnerships between high schools and government institutions.

DeSantis said that Florida schools currently have 59 speech and debate teams in 30 districts.

“Next year, we are adding 103 more schools,” he said, estimating Florida will have more than 160 schools with speech and debate teams across 48 school districts.

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