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Friday, December 02, 2022

Gov. Ron DeSantis institutes Victims of Communism Day

The bill will require public schools to teach about the victims of communist regimes

<p>Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses a crowd at Clark Plantation Wedding Venue in Newberry, Florida, on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. </p>

Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses a crowd at Clark Plantation Wedding Venue in Newberry, Florida, on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021.

Gov. Ron DeSantis' newest legislation will require Florida public schools to teach students about communist regimes and the people who suffered under them. 

The bill, HB395, was signed May 9 and will require U.S. government teachers to cover communism and those who suffered under it for at least 45 minutes on Nov. 7, “Victims of Communism Day.” 

DeSantis said he passed the bill to honor the 100 million people who have been victimized by communist regimes across the world. The Board of Education must revise curriculum, which will teach students about topics such as Zedong and the Cultural Revolution, Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution and Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union, by April 1, 2023. 

Andrew Wasserman, a 49-year-old history teacher at Eastside High School, said the bill seems unnecessary; it forces something that is already taught. He said he has taught his students about China’s famines and Stalin’s purges for 22 years. 

“These are all good things that people should know in history,” Wasserman said. “I think it's curricularly beneficial, but again, that’s already being done.” 

Meir Schochet, a 19-year-old UF astrophysics sophomore and president of the UF Communist Party, said DeSantis continues to demean marginalized groups in the state through acts like the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the “Victims of Communism Day” bill.

“DeSantis' goal is to demonize marginalized communities and to advocate for his own bigoted agenda,” Schochet said. “Generally, that means the erasure of a lot of cultures and a lot of peoples who just don't fit into his image.”

Aron Ali-McClory, a 19-year-old UF political science and anthropology sophomore and chair of the UF Young Democratic Socialists, said the bill actively villainized people who identify as communist or socialist. 

The new legislation could impact both public schools and could increase UF anti-communist sentiment as the years go by, Ali-McClory said. 

“To single out one — communism — and then to only list negative aspects is doing a lot of harm to a subject that has a lot of nuance,” they said. 

Contact Jackson Reyes at Follow him on Twitter @JacksnReyes.

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Jackson Reyes

Jackson Reyes is a third-year sports journalism major. He is the Gator's soccer beat reporter and previously worked as a general assignment reporter on the Metro desk. When he's not reporting, he enjoys collecting records and taking long walks on the beach. 

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