TAMPA (WFLA) – Governor Ron DeSantis introduced a new civics education program that will pay Florida teachers a $3,000 bonus — but there’s a catch.
Teachers will have to complete training for the new program, which he dubbed the “Florida civic seal of excellence.”
“Under this initiative, the [state education] department will partner with national leaders and civics professional development to provide a series of modules and microcredentials that any Florida teacher will be eligible to attain,” DeSantis said Wednesday morning at a press conference in Naples.
However, DeSantis said the new program will not teach certain topics.
“Let me be clear, there’s no room in our classrooms for things like critical race theory,” DeSantis said. “Teaching kids to hate their country and hate each other isn’t worth one red cent of taxpayer money.”
Founders of critical race theory say it’s a way of studying history with a focus on how racism and white supremacy have led to racial inequities within America’s justice system and society at large.
Some teachers say the governor is putting too much emphasis on politics not civics.
“It’s inappropriate to be paying people bonuses so they spout whatever your political position is,” said Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, Executive Director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association. “Those are just conservative talking points as much as anything else. I don’t think that’s a good use of our governor’s time.”
“What we should be doing most is helping to make our kids critical thinkers,” said Baxter-Jenkins. “History and civics are a great place to explore all sorts of different opinions, all sorts of different theories. You don’t get that opportunity much in math.”
The program has not yet been developed. DeSantis said he is urging the legislature to take up this initiative and pass it into law.
DeSantis said it will cost $106 million, paid for with money given to the state in the federal CARES Act last year.