Desantis’ veto stuns Republican sponsors of a bill that promotes student civil literacy

Last week, a high school student from the Civic Fellow Program at the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus was welcomed with a short video message from Governor Rondes Santis.

“This is the first initiative in the country in partnership with the USF and is a great start to our college career,” DeSantis said in a 2020 video. “Investigate important public policy issues and applaud your desire to learn more about how legislatures, judiciaries and governments work.”

But this week, DeSantis rejected a bill centered on civic literacy education to develop civic literacy practices, established an existing program in USF St. Petersburg as a civic scholarship program, and provided high school students with credit for college participation. ..

The governor signed a series of bills last week aimed at improving citizens’ literacy skills in the education system, but vetoed them late Tuesday night. SB 146 — A bill unanimously passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The bill establishes practices that enable high school students to “evaluate the roles, rights, and responsibilities of U.S. citizens and identify effective ways to actively participate in social, government, and political systems.” I asked.

In him A simple veto letterDe Santis wrote that his administration did a lot to improve civic education.

“The proposed bill seeks to further pursue so-called’behavioral citizens’, but in a way that risks promoting the favorable legitimacy of two specific institutions,” he wrote.

However, it remains unclear what “favorable legitimacy” is.

At last week’s board meeting, Senator Wilton Simpson called the University of Florida a “socialist factory,” and Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls warned that the university is becoming a space where one perspective can be pushed forward.

Last week, the conservative magazine National Review was published. Opinion piece Request veto from DeSantis SB 146, Calling it a way to insert critical racial theory into the curriculum, points to the “Unlearning Systemic Racism” tab on the YMCA website. It claimed that the bill would give students credit for participating in the protest.

Republican bill sponsors “shocked” and “surprised” by veto

Bill sponsor, Senator Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg said he was “shocked” that the bill was rejected and that the governor’s rationale was “at best amorphous.”

“I don’t know what that means,” he said. “I think it’s intentionally opaque.”

Congressman Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, who sponsored the house version of the bill, said he was told to sign the bill and was asked to submit a statement to the governor’s office. Instead, he learned that it was rejected last night and hoped he had the opportunity to address the concerns if the governor had them.

“I think this is part of a larger political agenda for demonizing our colleges and demonizing education,” Diamond said. “I don’t understand that. I’m kind of silent …. I’m surprised that the governor prioritizes his political agenda over Florida students. I’m stunned and sad. I think his veto really undermines public confidence in the government and the ability of the leaders elected to do the right thing for the people they serve. “

The program was launched at the USF in 2016 as a partnership between the University and the Florida YMCA, incorporating many opinions from the state legislature. According to Brandes, the goal was to provide young people interested in government with a way to understand how to tackle community issues.

Judytannes Scoutfield McLaukran, a professor of political science at the USF and founding director of the Citizens’ Participation Center, leads an annual program that includes a week-long residence on the St. Petersburg campus. She said the high school juniors and seniors selected for the program came from all over the state, including Democrats, Republicans, liberals, and non-party people.

“Our approach has always been bipartisan, exposing students to different perspectives,” said McLaukran. “There are workshops on communication and cooperation with people with different views.”

This year, participants attended a school board meeting, a city council and county committee meeting, and met Mayor Rick Kriseman. They also met with Lieutenant Jeanette Núñez, Congressman Chris Latvala, and Speaker of the House Sprowls.

Continuing USF program

Sprowls said the important thing to remember is that the money for the program remains intact.

Funding was refused during the COVID period, but the program received $ 300,000 this year.

Sprowls said there was nothing to worry about in the program’s curriculum, but he knew where the governor came from.

“I think the governor is concerned about many different organizations engaged in civil space about being very ideologically driven and pushing out a particular idealism, even if its ideology is well off the mainstream. “I will.”

He also said that this should be a cautionary story for national organizations like YMCA, which are “more radical” and have widespread consequences for locally operated YMCAs.

Lynne Wilcox, CEO of YMCA’s Florida Alliance, said Y has been running the Youth in Government program since 1957, even before partnering with the USF, and many of its graduates are now in public office. According to her, this is just a journey.

“It’s important for us for our children to understand the public, run for the public, run for the school board, and we show that they have a way to make a difference,” she said. Told.

Sprowls said he still supports the program.

“I don’t think those kids are offended because they’re ready to talk about big issues and someone doesn’t agree with them,” he said.

He said all vetoes create additional accountability in getting institutions to ask for funding each year.

Brandes, who spoke with students last week, said there is also civic education for students to study here. The bill can be unanimously supported, but the governor has the right to veto.

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