History of Communism Lessons Get Nod in Florida

TALLAHASSEE — A Senate panel on Tuesday approved a revamped bill that would require teaching about the history of communism in Florida’s public schools, with senators agreeing with a House position that such lessons should be taught in grades as early as kindergarten.

A previous version of the Senate bill (SB 1264) proposed creating a History of Communism Task Force within the state Department of Education. The task force would have recommended standards to guide instruction about communism history for all grades.

But under changes Tuesday, the bill would require schools to teach the history of communism in all grades starting in the 2026-2027 school year. The Senate Education Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the bill.

The instruction would have to be “age appropriate and developmentally appropriate” and include teaching various concepts. For example, lessons would have to cover concepts such as the “atrocities committed in foreign countries under the guidance” of communism, and the “economic, industrial, and political events that have preceded and anticipated communist revolutions.”

Bill sponsor Jay Collins, R-Tampa, and other supporters have warned that young people are increasingly viewing communism in a positive light.

“I’m here to tell you that if we fail to educate children on what this truly means, the pain, suffering and sorrow associated with it, we’re failing in our prime cause as parents, as leaders in our community,” Collins said.

Public school students currently learn about communism in a seventh-grade civics and government class and in high-school social studies courses. Florida decades ago required high-school students to take a 30-hour course titled “Americanism vs. Communism,” according to a Senate staff analysis of the bill.

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“The instruction included the history, doctrines, objectives and techniques of communism with particular emphasis upon the dangers of communism, the ways to fight communism, the evils of communism, the fallacies of communism, and the false doctrines of communism,” the analysis said.

Numerous people who spoke in favor of the bill Tuesday gave emotional accounts of their experiences or family members’ experiences under communism.

“I think it’s very important for this country to teach young kids what communism does, what communism takes away from you, what communism does to your family, what communism does to your dream,” Jaime Arellano, who told the Senate panel that he had been a political prisoner in Nicaragua, said.

Other changes to the bill approved Tuesday included calling for a collaboration between a college and university in South Florida to develop “programs that advance democratic practices and economic and legal reforms.”

The bill also would require creating an “Institute for Freedom in the Americas” at Miami Dade College. The proposed institute would have to be located in the Freedom Tower on the college’s campus. Freedom Tower is a historic site associated with people fleeing Communist-led Cuba.

The Institute for Freedom in the Americas would be required to partner with Florida International University’s Adam Smith Center for Economic Freedom to hold public events.

Though the bill would no longer create a History of Communism Task Force, it would lead to an oversight board for the proposed Institute for Freedom in the Americas. The proposed five-member board would be made up of appointees of the House speaker and Senate president and three appointees of the governor.

A similar House bill (HB 1349) is slated to go before the House Education & Employment Committee on Wednesday.

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