Students starting in kindergarten may be learning about the concepts and controversial figures of 20th century communism soon, but lawmakers are still making changes to proposed legislation.

The measure (SB 1264) advanced through the Senate Appropriations Committee on Education. It would create a “History of Communism Task Force” and is being billed as a “scaffolding” of knowledge for Florida school attendees.

The bill would compel school districts to verify that they have provided this instruction every year to the Department of Education, with the State Board of Education setting up standards for curriculum and standards for instruction.

The GOP Sen. Jay Collins bill, which focuses on the “reality of communism,” will empower the task force to recommend a potential “museum of communist history” to the Legislature by the end of 2024. That facility could be located at a current museum.

Amendments added at this stop include requirements for public schools to teach about communism in grades K-12 starting in the 2026-27 school year.

“Atrocities committed in foreign countries under the guidance of Communism,” the “philosophy and lineages of Communist thought” and the “increasing threat of communism in the United States and to our allies through the 20th century, including the events of the Cultural Revolution in the People’s Republic of China and other mass killings from communist regimes” would be taught in a way that is “age-appropriate” and “developmentally appropriate.”

Additionally, the bill calls for Miami Dade College to be the home for the Institute of Freedom in the Americas (IFA). It would serve “to preserve the ideals of a free society and promote democracy in the Americas” and work “with the Adam Smith Center for Economic Freedom to support its mission, which includes promoting economic and individual freedoms as a means for advancing human progress with an emphasis on Latin American and the Caribbean.”

New language says IFA could offer “degrees,” and would be governed by a five-person board that the Governor would essentially control, picking three of the five appointees, with legislative leadership selecting the other two.

Republican Sen. Travis Hutson suggested in debate that those appointees should be subject to legislative ratification.

Members of the public made their cases for the bill, noting that Florida taught “capitalism versus communism” classes through the Cold War, and expressing concern that communism has become “trendy” with young people enthralled by social media iconography.

Additionally, survivors of communist regimes told numerous stories about how communism inexorably altered countries and social systems they once knew.

One speaker compared the coverage of the George Floyd police murder and “lootings by groups such as antifa” and attempts to “breed hatred and mistrust” to what happened in South Vietnam in the early 1960s with media coverage favoring communist North Vietnam and leading to the “toppling of our dear President Ngo Dinh Diem.” He claimed America is headed for a similar fate as that endured by Vietnamese as that Civil War raged.

Similar legislation is also moving in the House (HB 1349).

Like the Senate version, the House product also has one committee stop ahead.

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