Gov. DeSantis touts civics program, $3K bonuses for teachers

Florida Politics | By Gray Rohrer | March 23, 2023

‘Everybody is going to be called upon to exercise the duties of being an American citizen.’

Gov. Ron DeSantis handed out the first $3,000 bonus checks for teachers who completed a civics instructional program he backed last year.

The program, launched in 2021, is vital for instilling basic civics education for students as they enter adulthood, DeSantis said.

“You can take certain courses in high school, let’s say, and you may never use some of those courses if you go in a certain direction in your life,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Orange Park. “But you know the one thing that you’ll do regardless of what you decide to do as a young person — everybody is going to be called upon to exercise the duties of being an American citizen.”

DeSantis said Thursday that 4,500 teachers have completed the course, which entails 50 hours of instruction on U.S. history and civics. Teachers who complete the course can receive the $3,000 bonus.

The goal is to reach 20,000 teachers, and the state is well on course for that, DeSantis said, as 34,000 teachers in the state have enrolled for the course. Another 14,000 are on a waiting list. The money for the program was set aside in the current year’s budget, and DeSantis said he wants to continue supporting the program in the upcoming state spending plan.

“We’re committed to keeping this going,” DeSantis said. “I know that this will really, really benefit the students.”

He also wants to continue funding for a debate program put in place two years ago. DeSantis called for $1 million to expand the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative, which is in place in 54 school districts and 243 schools throughout the state. DeSantis is aiming to get all 67 school districts on board for the program next year with at least 400 schools participating.

The budget plan pushed by DeSantis also recommends $6.5 million for improving civic literacy.

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