ORANGE PARK – Governor Ron DeSantis made good on his pledge last week to return civics as a main course of study by hand-delivering seven $3,000 checks to Clay County teachers who’ve completed a …
ORANGE PARK – Governor Ron DeSantis made good on his pledge last week to return civics as a main course of study by hand-delivering seven $3,000 checks to Clay County teachers who’ve completed a 50-hour Civics Seal of Excellence “boot camp” to help them understand the American legislative process so they can channel that knowledge to their students.
“If you think about the purpose of the school system, it’s giving our young people a foundation so that they can lead productive lives that’s going to provide many people a pathway to go to university to provide a pathway to go to get vocational training, some way to stay in college,” DeSantis said during a stop at Ridgeview High. “The one thing that you’ll do, regardless of what you decide to do, as a younger person, everybody is going to be called upon to exercise the duties of being an American citizen. And that is something that we take seriously in Florida.
“The legislature has done some good things over the years, but we really needed to take it to the next level.”
The program was limited to 20,000 teachers, DeSantis said. Days after signups started, there was already a waiting list of 14,000.
Green Cove Springs Junior High civics teacher Michael Taft was one of eight who got a bonus.
“Within the next year or so, the United States will be begging for this course,” Taft said. “They took a lot of time and a lot of effort to put it together. They put so many primary and secondary sources for additional reading materials that can be turned around and used in the classroom. I’ve already started doing so.
“Also, this is innovative, inspiring and incredibly educational, not just for students but for us as teachers as lifelong learners. And it’s a way for us to encourage our students to step up, do the right thing and be exemplary citizens within the community. And that’s what it’s all about the citizenship side of it.”
Other teachers honored included Coppergate Elementary fifth-grader teachers Brittany Bishop and Lynda Selby, Fleming Island Elementary teachers Penny Turner and Karen McCarthy, Plantation Oaks Elementary fifth-grade teacher Benita Pelzer and Oakleaf High science teacher Billie Anne Lentz.
DeSantis spent an hour at Ridgeview. Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. and Superintendent David Broskie joined him.
DeSantis reminded invitees why there is a need for civics refresher courses.
“If you look at the civics knowledge of the population and it’s abysmal. Half of U.S. adults can’t name the three branches of government,” he said. “Less than one in four people can name the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. More than half of college graduates don’t know the process for amending our nation’s constitution.
“And there was even one study seven years ago, in which 10% of college graduates thought that Judge Judy was a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.”