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Over 11,000 teachers receive more than $33 million in civics training bonuses

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(The Center Square) – More than 11,000 teachers have received a total of more than $33 million in bonuses for completing civics training through a new program the state launched in January.

This is up from 4,500 teachers who by March had completed the new program, each receiving $3,000 bonuses.

Last July, Florida launched its first ever Civic Literacy Excellence Initiative to prepare high school and college graduates for public service. It included a three-day Civics Excellence teacher training course, which was expanded to a new program launched in January.

“Understanding the founding principles of our nation is the key to protecting and maintaining our republic for generations to come,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said when announcing the total awarded so far. “Florida teachers are leading the way in civics education, which is demonstrated by our student success, especially when compared to the rest of the nation.”

The Florida Department of Education created the state’s first ever Civics Seal of Excellence Course for Florida teachers in January offering educators the opportunity to complete either a Summer Civics Professional Learning Series or the first-of-its-kind Civics Seal of Excellence Endorsement. Both equip teachers with the knowledge and skills to provide high-quality civics instruction, according to the state.

Within the first week of its launch, over 10,000 teachers registered for the course. Course enrollment is currently at capacity with 20,000 teachers enrolled and an additional 11,000 on the waiting list, according to the FDOE.

The Civics Seal of Excellence Course is roughly 50 hours and teachers have two months to complete it. It consists of a video-based curriculum presented by 53 expert scholars and practitioners with backgrounds in history, government and political science. For most lessons, teachers submit responses and complete interactive assessments.

Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr., said, “Through state leadership and the commitment of thousands of educators, Florida has provided students unprecedented civics education” and the $33 million awarded to teachers who completed the new civics training will “better prepare their students to become civically engaged and honor their responsibilities as American citizens.”

These initiatives follow another launched in 2020, the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative, the first statewide program of its kind focused on using debate as a tool to enrich civics education. Participating schools have reported higher pass rates on both the Civics and U.S. History End-of-Course Exams than schools without an FCDI team, according to FDOE data.

DeSantis and the state legislature also recently advanced several civics-focused laws that require state university and college curriculums to foster principles espoused by the U.S. Constitution, and prohibit taxpayer funds from being spent on critical race theory, diversity, equity and inclusion programs, or on social or political activism initiatives.

The DOE has also developed civics curriculum for K-12 schools emphasizing the foundations of government, the U.S. Constitution, law, political system, among other subjects to prepare students to become knowledgeable, responsible and make positive contributions to society.

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