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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Teaching patriotism in Florida

Florida's civics standards are -- gasp! -- "overtly patriotic," reports Ileana Najarro. Summer training sessions for civics teachers focus on how to teach about "the country’s founding ideals and religion’s role in that foundation," she writes.

"We’re not talking about jingoism, we’re not talking about an uncritical sense of patriotism,” said Stephen S. Masyada, director of the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the University of Central Florida, which helped develop the standards. But the goal is to build civic pride, he said. The new standards remove activities such as mock elections and community service projects, writes Najarro.

Critics say "action civics" can be manipulative -- or just waste time that could be spent learning the basics.

. . . kindergarten teachers will now have students learn to “define patriotism as the allegiance to one’s country,” which includes identifying patriotic holidays and observances. In 7th grade, the year when students are tested on civics, the standards now make mention of the importance of religious liberty and are more prescriptive in their language. Students must analyze the advantages of the U.S. form of government over other forms, rather than compare and contrast.

High school teachers complained about “Christian and conservative ideology,”  reported Ana Ceballos and Sommer Brugal in the Miami Herald, which reviewed the presentations and published training slides.

Broward County teachers said the training "downplayed the role the colonies and later the United States had in the history of slavery in America."

In addition, "one slide underscored that the 'Founders expected religion to be promoted because they believed it to be essential to civic virtue.' Without virtue, another slide noted, citizens become 'licentious' and become subject to tyranny."

Florida is becoming a model, writes Najarro. Arizona will require students to learn about the"blessings of liberty," language lifted from Florida's 2021 law., and compare "Communism and totalitarianism" to America's "principles of freedom and democracy."

The Civics Alliance, a conservative coalition, has created model K-12 social studies standards called American Birthright, which focuses on "liberty, individualism, religious freedom, and republican self-government." It draws on Massachusetts and Florida standards.

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