ORLANDO, Florida—Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke about how important it was for parents to reclaim their rights in education, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve seen over the last few years in our country how important policy is, both good and very bad,” DeSantis said at a Heritage Foundation event Friday in Orlando. “There may be no area where the contrast between a free state like Florida and some of the lockdown states was [bigger] than on education during COVID.”
The event featured the unveiling of Heritage’s “Education Freedom Report Card,” which ranked Florida as the freest state in the nation. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
“We’re not going to let fear drive policy making,” he added. “we’re going to make sure that we’re there to support the well-being of our kids and also to support families throughout Florida.”
The governor also addressed how his plans to give parents more rights in the education of their children has led to conflict with leftist groups. DeSantis highlighted his state’s work on the “Parental Rights in Education” bill and curriculum transparency bills.
The “Parental Rights in Education” legislation was often referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics and the corporate media.
“The purpose of our school system is to educate kids, not to indoctrinate kids,” DeSantis said. “You do not distort American history to try to advance your current ideological agenda.”
DeSantis also said his administration was placing an increased emphasis on teaching American civics.
“As [we] fight back against things like [critical race theory] … we’ve put a renewed emphasis on American civics, on making sure that the kids who come through our schools have an idea of what it means to be an American,” DeSantis said.
After his speech, the governor sat down with Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts for a discussion on what made Florida’s education policies some of the best in the country.
Roberts noted that while Florida was first on several different metrics for education freedom, it lagged behind other states on school choice. Roberts then asked DeSantis what his plans were to bolster school choice in the Sunshine State.
The governor targeted teachers unions as a negative influence in achieving better school choice policies in Florida, and said his state was planning on reforming how families could use state scholarship funds to choose where to send their kids to school.
“There’s an opportunity for some innovation with [scholarships] if it’s an account that the parents can control that can be tuition, but could also be for tutoring or for other services,” DeSantis said. “The parent will be able to make a whole host of other choices to give their kids the most opportunity possible.”
According to “Education Freedom Report Card”, Florida is the best state in the Union at protecting parental rights. Roberts, who referred to DeSantis as “America’s governor,” said that the work Florida lawmakers were doing in education is the “lever for taking back our schools for our kids, and our parents, and our families.”
A full video of DeSantis’ speech and Q&A can be found here.
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