- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis awarded over $33 million to 11,000 teachers who completed state-provided civics training, aiming to improve civics instruction in Florida schools.
- The Civics Seal of Excellence program, initiated by DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education, sees high enrollment and offers a 50-hour online course on America’s history, civics, and government.
- Despite the state’s emphasis on improved civics education, some educators criticize the program, expressing concerns about perceived Christian and conservative ideology in the training.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Monday the awarding of more than $33 million to 11,000 teachers who have completed state-provided civics training. The educators had undergone either the Summer Civics Professional Learning Series or the new Civics Seal of Excellence Endorsement, which DeSantis says aims to enhance the quality of civics instruction in Florida schools.
The Civics Seal of Excellence program, initiated by DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) in January, saw over 10,000 teachers registering within the first week. The course is currently at full capacity with 20,000 teachers enrolled and 11,000 awaiting entry. To devise the 50-hour online program, which includes over 28 hours of video lessons on America’s history, civics, and government, the FDOE enlisted the help of nationally recognized civics experts.
“Understanding the founding principles of our nation is the key to protecting and maintaining our republic for generations to come,” said Governor DeSantis. “Florida teachers are leading the way in civics education, as demonstrated by our student success, particularly when compared to the rest of the nation.”
The initiative has received endorsements from educators such as Kelley Mathews, a social studies teacher at Fort White High School, who praised the program’s capacity to strengthen connections between historical context and modern-day applications across a broad range of subjects.
DeSantis, since taking office, has consistently prioritized civics education, launching initiatives like the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative in 2020 and the Civics Literacy Excellence Initiative in July 2021. These programs aim to promote civic literacy and education for Florida’s students through varied approaches such as debate and revised government standards.
Despite the state’s emphasis on improved civics education, some critics have voiced concerns. After a three-day training session in Broward County last year, several South Florida high school educators expressed concern that the new civics initiatives lean towards promoting a Christian and conservative ideology. One teacher said the training was “very skewed” toward strong Christian principles, while other educators expressed similar sentiments, expressing discomfort with perceived political overtones in the civics training.
The DeSantis administration has spent nearly $6 million on statewide civics teacher training as part of these ongoing initiatives. These training sessions, the first of which were held June 20-22 at Broward College, are currently underway in Hillsborough County.