New education law aims to counter ‘apologists for communism in our society,’ DeSantis says

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Long Exposure of Freedom Tower and Downtown Miami. Photo by Getty Images

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Gov. Ron DeSantis traveled to a museum honoring veterans of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba Wednesday to sign legislation shoring up instruction in public schools about the evils of communism.

Although communism collapsed in the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact nations, it remains a threat because of communist China and Latin America — especially Cuba, DeSantis said during a news conference at the Hialeah Gardens Museum, which is dedicated to survivors of the CIA-backed invasion, launched on April 17, 1961.

The museum’s website notes that “1,113 fighters were captured by Castro’s forces and were kept prisoners for 20 months.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis poses with veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion on April 17, 2024, the event’s anniversary. Source: DeSantis Facebook

“There are more leftist governments today than at the height of the Cold War in this hemisphere. And I include Canada as one of those governments,” DeSantis said.

“This all emanates from Havana. Havana is the node for leftist government throughout the Americas. It is the original cancer, that government, in the Western hemisphere, and I think our policy should be to side with the people that want a free Cuba and that no longer want to live under that tyranny, and Joe Biden missed a great opportunity.”

The governor referred to his idea to use balloon-mounted cellphone technology to provide internet access to Cubans in 2021. According to an Associated Press analysis, that might not have been feasible beyond the short term, however. The Cuban government had restricted access amid an outbreak of popular protest.

Since 2022, the state has recognized Nov. 7, the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, as “Victims of Communism Day,” and required 45 minutes of instruction in K-12 classrooms on communism’s evils.

Age-appropriate instruction

The new law (SB 1264) requires age-appropriate instruction about communism, including its history in the United States, specifically “domestic communist movements, including their histories and tactics” and “atrocities committed in foreign countries under the guidance of communism,” including Cuba and Latin America.

In drafting the curricula, the Florida Department of Education “may seek input from any individual who was a victim of communism or any state or nationally recognized organization dedicated to the victims of communism,” the bill says.

The bill creates The Institute for Freedom in the Americas at Miami-Dade College “to preserve the ideals of a free society and promote democracy in the Americas.” That institute will be located in the Freedom Tower, site of the Cuban Refugee Assistance Center following the Cuban Revolution.

It also creates the Adam Smith Center for Economic Freedom at Florida International University to “study the effect of government and free market economies on individual freedom, educational freedom, and human prosperity.”

The two institutions are meant to collaborate in organizing curricula, workshops, and other educational efforts, DeSantis said.

Finally, the bill sets a framework for a new museum documenting the history of communism.

‘Apologists for coummunism’

The effort is necessary because of “apologists for communism in our society,” DeSantis said.

“There’s more communists on the Harvard faculty than all of Eastern Europe, because they lived through it and so no one’s a communist anymore there,” he declared, in what one assumes was hyperbole.

Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. suggested the instruction would inoculate students against Marxist indoctrination.

“So, our students from elementary school through middle school through high school will have a foundation and an understanding, so when they get to the higher ed level they will not be fooled by anyone telling the story otherwise,” Diaz said.

Additionally, “we are going to penetrate higher ed and allow our students in higher ed to be exposed to the truth,” Diaz said. “For too long we have had the other side trying to impose their ideology and their version of the story, which is false, on our higher ed students.”

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