Gov. Ron DeSantis boasted about his civics initiative on July 7th following complaints that a new teacher training program is driven ideologically by strong “Christian fundamentalist” overtones. Teachers who took the civics training this month told the Miami Herald that it “was very biased” and sought to “propagate particular viewpoints.”
One slide used by the trainers says it is a “misconception” that “the founders wanted a strict separation of church and state.” Teachers also questioned how the instructors have framed the history of slavery in the United States and how they have highlighted a conservative legal theory to interpret the U.S. Constitution.
The program for teacher training was developed with contributions from groups such as Hillsdale College, a private Christian school. “There was this Christian nationalism philosophy that was just baked into everything that was there,” Richard Judd, a social studies teacher at Nova High School, told the Herald.
On July 7th, DeSantis addressed a press conference in Sanford, where he said the state was “unabashedly promoting civics and history that is accurate and that is not trying to push an ideological agenda.” “You’re learning the real history, you’re learning the real facts, but it’s not going to be done in a way that’s trying to indoctrinate students with whatever modern agenda that somebody may have,” he added.
DeSantis has been heavily engaged in civic education since he took office. Since 2019, he has led the state Department of Education to develop new civic initiatives, including a civics test for high school students. The governor has also been pushing for new civics education standards and a new teacher training program. DeSantis noted on July 7th that civic test scores have increased since he shifted his focus to the issue, and touted a $1 million expansion of his civics and debate initiative.
“If we did a better job of doing civics education, I don’t think we’d have as many divisions in our country that we have,” DeSantis claimed on July 7th. “If you don’t have a common understanding of our constitutional structure, of our founding principles, it makes it a lot harder to agree on different types of issues.”
DeSantis was also in the news when he told mainstream media “we don’t care” what they think anymore. During an appearance in the city of West Palm Beach in Florida, Ron DeSantis was questioned regarding a recent Washington Post article that accuses his press secretary Christina Pushaw of possibly being in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by untimely registering herself as a foreign agent for the former president of the Georgia country.
DeSantis described the article as a “smear piece” and said he would “not be deterred” by the move. “I am not deterred by any smear piece by these legacy media outlets. The only reason they’re attacking her is because she does a great job and she’s very effective at calling out their lies and their phony narratives,” he said.
He added, “Whenever they’re smearing somebody, you know that person is over the target and they’re scared of them. I would be much more concerned with my press secretary if the Washington Post was writing puff pieces about her. Then I would think something was wrong.”
Michael Sherwin, the attorney of Christina Pushaw declared in a statement obtained by Fox News, “Ms. Pushaw did volunteer work helping to advocate for former Georgian President Miikheil Saakashvili, a close ally of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the need for free elections and democratic institutions in Georgia where she was living at the time.
“She was then paid for some of that work, totaling $25,000 over two years, which covered some of her living expenses. Her efforts included writing op-eds, reaching out to supporters and officials, and advocating on his behalf in Georgia and in the United States,” Sherwin explained, as reported.
In the end, the statement concluded “The work ended in 2020. Ms. Pushaw was notified recently by the DOJ that her work on behalf of Mr. Saakashvili likely required FARA registration. Ms. Pushaw filed for the registration retroactively as soon as she was made aware.”
Governor DeSantis additionally blasted the media for what he called “continuing to push some hit pieces against his administration.” “I think what we need to understand is that these legacy outlets in D.C. and New York – we don’t care what you think anymore. We know you peddle narratives. We know you lie. We know you don’t care about the facts. And so you can try to smear me or anyone in my administration all you want. All this will do is embolden us to keep moving forward for the people of Florida,” DeSantis stated. He ended his remarks by stating, “I think it was a totally ridiculous attempt at smearing and it will have absolutely no impact on anything we do in our office.”
In a comment to Fox News, Christina Pushaw said, “I am blessed to work for a leader who genuinely does not care what legacy media thinks about him, his agenda, or his team.”