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Three Florida colleges will become 'civics academies' and offer training on careers in government

Gov. Ron DeSantis announces Monday, July 18, 2022, that the state will fund $6.5 million in civics education programs at three colleges in Florida, including Florida State College at Jacksonville. In back, from left, are FSCJ President Dr. John Avendano, Florida Education Secretary Manny Diaz Jr. and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.
Will Brown
/
WJCT News
Gov. Ron DeSantis announces Monday, July 18, 2022, that the state will fund $6.5 million in civics education programs at three colleges in Florida, including Florida State College at Jacksonville. In back, from left, are FSCJ President Dr. John Avendano, Florida Education Secretary Manny Diaz Jr. and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that Polk State College, Florida State College at Jacksonville, and Broward College would receive $6.5 million to create the Career Pathways for Public Service Initiative.

Florida State College at Jacksonville is one of three institutions that will split $6.5 million in state funding to develop a curriculum to prepare people for public service and citizenship.

In an appearance at FSCJ, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday that Polk State College and Broward College would join FSCJ is creating the Career Pathways for Public Service Initiative.

The curriculum, DeSantis said, will provide knowledge-based civics to help high school and undergraduate students learn about their local and state governments.

The program will launch in August 2023.

“This is something that's significant, because when you leave our school system, you're a citizen,” DeSantis said. “Most of them are either adults, or will return adult, very quickly. And you're going to be called upon to exercise the duties of being a citizen. And that's something that's very important.”

The governor touted the importance of students understanding the foundations of American history including the Constitution, Bill of Rights and “important episodes throughout American history.”

“Seeing issues from another perspective forces students to be able to have strong arguments, be able to understand the facts that maybe benefit your argument that are on the other side,” DeSantis said.

Monday’s announcement comes less than three weeks after K-12 teachers across the state objected to the state’s new civics curriculum as sanitized history that promotes conservative Christian ideology.

Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. discusses the Career Pathways for Public Service Initiative, which was announced Monday, July 18, 2022, on the campus of Florida State College at Jacksonville.
Will Brown
/
WJCT News
Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. discusses the Career Pathways for Public Service Initiative, which was announced Monday, July 18, 2022, on the campus of Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Asked what values would underpin the new program, Florida Education Secretary Manny Diaz Jr. said the initiative would address the structure of local and state government in Florida.

“You’re getting students to understand from high school going into higher ed, understanding how our government is structured,” Diaz told WJCT News. “Many times, unfortunately, you see these programs and kids are asked. They don’t understand the difference between state government, federal government (and) local government.

"Understanding all of that, and then getting the hard skills to perform the duties of a public servant — that could be project management, it could be cybersecurity, all of those things. It’s knowledge-based civics: How does the government function? How is our state government structured? How is the local government structured?”

DeSantis said the career pathways program would be a knowledge-based civics curriculum. He deplored action-based civics as a pathway to training professional activists. He cited Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as an example of the growth of America from the application of the principles that were used to create this constitutional republic.

The Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida is developing the curriculum.

Diaz said the program will help the state in workforce development because it will prepare students for certifications including project management and will provide a path to careers in grant writing, procurement specialist, project management and more.

FSCJ President John Avendano expects the program to provide professional development for K-12 teachers in Duval and Nassau counties. He expects FSCJ to receive more than $2 million in funding as part of the program and to enroll as many as 300 students.

“People who serve in public service and public administration don’t, necessarily, have to come from a government job,” Avendano said. “You can come from any number of career fields. It’s the exposure to being actively engaged … (and) having a civic mind, so that if you’re in cybersecurity, or if you’re in heath care, you can have this career field and get actively engaged, (and) actively involved in civic-minded type programs or civic duties within your community.”
Copyright 2022 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.

Will Brown