Florida Governor Ron Desantis signed three education bills last week, one of which mandates that all k-12 students in the state be instructed about the evils of communism and other totalitarian forms of government.
The governor says the bills are part of an ongoing effort to promote civic literacy in the state, as well as quashing the rising tide of totalitarian sympathies from many within the school system. Republicans including Desantis have vocally opposed the obvious left-wing bias seen at the university as well as secondary education level.
According to Desantis, it’s imperative for young people in Florida to understand why dissidents from all over the world risk their lives to migrate to America in the first place. As we see through history, many migrants arrive on our shores with the express purpose of escaping communism and other authoritarian regimes.
“Why would somebody flee across shark infested waters, say leaving from Cuba, to come to southern Florida? Why would somebody leave a place like Vietnam? Why would people leave these countries and risk their life to be able to come here?” Desantis explained. “It’s important that students understand that.”
Also included in the bills is a measure to require students attending state universities to pass a civics literacy exam in order to graduate. Alternatively, students can also opt to take a course on American government. Students that pass the exam will be exempt from being required to take the course.
Finally, the third bill provides free speech protections for university students. Under the new law, students will not be prevented from exploring ideas that faculty may find objectionable. Governor Desantis says this is the entire point of attending a university in the first place.
“It used be thought that a university campus was a place where you’d be exposed to a lot of different ideas. Unfortunately now, the norm is really these are more intellectually repressive environments,” Desantis added. “You have orthodoxies that are promoted and other viewpoints are shunned, or even suppressed. We don’t want that in Florida.”
With bills like this, Desantis continues to present himself as an emerging conservative thought leader — strengthening his position for a possible White House run in 2024. The governor is very popular in his home state. Republican voters in the rest of the country seem to be big fans as well. A recent straw poll showed the Florida governor eclipsing former President Donald Trump in overall popularity, suggesting a changing of the guard is already taking place.
Even so, Desantis has been very keen to stay in his lane. He seems to understand that his supporters are also Trump supporters, and that prematurely declaring presidential aspirations could divide a party that must be united to have any chance at beating the Democrats in the future.
In any case, Desantis should be applauded for signing these bills. We’re living in a time when liberal democracy is vulnerable to left-wing authoritarianism, and must take actions to protect itself. Communism is evil — it is responsible for at least 80 million deaths over the past century. At least students in Florida will come to know the truth about this insipid ideology.