JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis joined other state education leaders and lawmakers at Florida State College at Jacksonville to discuss state education programs and initiatives. He announced $6.5 million in funding for a public service workforce training program in Florida. The money is intended to help open three civics academies at Florida state colleges.
He referred to Florida government investments in workforce and vocational training programs, focused on industries such as commercial truck driving and transportation and engineering, among others.
At the event, DeSantis repeated some of his previous commentary about the viability of degrees from higher education, referencing oft-mentioned “Zombie Studies” degrees, as well as debt levels following four-year degrees.
The event itself was focused on civics education, which DeSantis said the state wanted to focus on core subjects like reading, math, geography, and civics. He said students in Florida should understand the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and how they should understand the philosophy and history of the country and state. DeSantis also praised the efforts in the state to increase speech and debate initiatives, which now had 60 schools involved, as a way to teach critical thinking.
The governor also made mention of state legislative efforts to avoid indoctrination and ideology in state curriculum, referring to bans on Critical Race Theory being taught in Florida schools.
He also said debate programs helped students learn how to think critically, even when they had to represent an idea or topic they may not agree with. DeSantis also said the state would begin administering a citizenship-style exam to encourage Floridians to have more knowledge of America, saying that immigrants sometimes end up knowing more about the U.S. than natural-born citizens.
“Our approach to civics is a knowledge-based approach to civics,” DeSantis said. “That’s not the same as every place in this country. There’s a movement around the country to do what they consider action civics.”
DeSantis said action-based civics was focused on making people into political activism, rather than teaching students to understand the foundations, ideas, and important events in American history and politics.
DeSantis said the state would be awarding $6.5 million to launch a civics education program for workforce training with three locations, aimed at teaching students what they needed to work in various sectors of government and public service. The new civics career academies would teach 1,000 students beginning in August 2023.
The planned civics academies were said to be opening at Broward College, Polk State College, and Florida State College at Jacksonville. The programs would be operated through the Florida College System. According to speakers at the event, the education initiative will provide training in fields such as public administration, civil service, and local and state government.
State high schools will also create programs for public service training, in partnership with the colleges hosting the newly announced civics academies.
During a post-announcement question and answer session, DeSantis spoke on the current inflation levels, saying that in 2021 the government had said, “There would be no inflation.”
The governor also criticized the “printing of money” he has said in the past for a cause of the high inflation level, and said that while renewable energy such as solar was important, it was a complement to oil, not a replacement.
DeSantis said the inflation was “accelerating” and that what was seen at the end of June is showing that inflation has yet to peak. He said it was adding challenges to people making end’s meet, even when working multiple jobs.
Commenting on COVID-19 vaccines for children, DeSantis said there was no substantive proof the vaccines were of benefit, despite “prattling on” in Washington. He said the data for the vaccines for children under 5-years-old was “flimsy” and the state stood by its decision not to participate in state-operated programs for the vaccines at those ages.