Florida’s New ‘History of Communism’ Law Is a Model All States Should Follow

Published April 22, 2024

When it comes to sensible education policy, Florida has been at the vanguard in recent years. From the Parental Rights in Education Act to universal school choice legislation, Florida lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis clearly understand that prudent education reforms are sorely needed.

On April 17, DeSantis signed SB 1264, which will reinforce Florida’s education standards by requiring that students learn about “the dangers and evils of Communism.”

According to DeSantis, “We will not allow our students to live in ignorance, nor be indoctrinated by Communist apologists in schools. To the contrary, we will ensure students in Florida are taught the truth about the evils and dangers of Communism.”

“I know firsthand the evils that Communism brings, and I am proud to stand by Governor DeSantis as he signs this legislation to ensure Florida remains the bastion of freedom,” added Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz.

Like Diaz, I have firsthand experience, at least when it comes to educating students about the history and ideology of communism. For several years, I was a public high school social studies teacher, first in Illinois and then in South Carolina. I specialized in three subjects: U.S. history, world history, and American government, all of which touch upon the subject of socialism/communism in one form or another.

I completed my student teaching program at a very prominent public high school in the northern suburbs of Chicago, where I shadowed and eventually taught a semester of world history and U.S. history. I must say I was totally dumbfounded when I observed my “master teacher” give presentations on anything related to socialism/communism.

In short, he consistently went out of his way to whitewash the horrors of socialist regimes, from the Soviet Union to Cuba to China. He always framed socialism as morally superior to free-market capitalism. And he regularly echoed that the reason these socialist nations failed or didn’t deliver fully on their promises of utopian egalitarianism was due to meddling from the West.

I know it is difficult to believe, but my “master teacher” at this nationally recognized high school was far from the only social studies teacher with socialist leanings. In fact, it was the norm throughout the entire social studies department.

After I finished my student teaching program, I moved to South Carolina, with the hopes that a conservative state would have a less “socialist-friendly” teaching environment. Boy, was I wrong.

To my astonishment, after landing a full-time teaching position at a public high school outside Hilton Head, things were just as bad.

Like my experience at the aforementioned Chicagoland high school, the social studies department at my new school in South Carolina was chock-full of socialist sympathizers.

I spent five years teaching U.S. history, world history, and American government at this school, during which I chronically witnessed what I can only describe as “socialist indoctrination” from most of my colleagues. In many cases, blatantly pro-socialist ideology was being masqueraded as “giving both sides.” To my chagrin, this became nauseating after several years.

Such is why I decided to retire from the teaching profession and dedicate my life to speaking the truth about public policy in general, and socialism, in particular.

Many years later, I am a research fellow with The Heartland Institute’s Socialism Research Center (SRC), which is “devoted to informing the world about the dangers, including the moral dangers, associated with socialism, communism, and other forms of collectivism.”

The reason I bring this up is because the SRC has just published a book, Socialism at a Glance, which offers a concise history of socialism including an analysis of socialist ideology and The Communist Manifesto.

As a former teacher, I am well aware that there remains a giant void in accurate teaching materials on the subject of socialism. Socialism at a Glance was designed to fill that void, to serve as a resource for anyone interested in learning the unvarnished truth about socialism.

Now, back to the new Florida law. In a nutshell, the new law is designed to beef up the “existing Communist history standards with instruction on the history of Communism in the United States and the tactics of Communist movements,” “promote the importance of economic and individual freedoms as a means to advance human progress,” and prepare “students to withstand indoctrination on Communism at colleges and universities.”

Those are all noble endeavors, not to mention completely necessary, and should serve as the bedrock for socialism teaching standards in all 50 states.

Photo by Gage Skidmore. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.