Bill increasing school instruction on victims of communism advances

Special observance would fall on the anniversary of the day that Vladimir Lenin led forces against the Russian capital.

A bill that proposes public school students observe “Victims of Communism Day” and learn about the suffering under communist rule is heading to a final committee hearing in the Senate after getting a committee nod Wednesday.

Republican Sen. Manny Diaz is sponsoring the legislation (SB 268) that would have students start observing the day on Nov. 7, 2023. Similar legislation (HB 395) is also headed to its third hearing in the House.

Starting in the 2023-24 school year, high school students in American government class would receive at least 45 minutes of instruction on the movement that has killed more than 100 million people, according to a bill the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education approved Wednesday.

Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Russia’s Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, Cambodia’s Pol Pot and China’s Mao Zedong are the figures mentioned in the legislation that aims to ensure students learn, “how victims suffered under these regimes through poverty, starvation, migration, systemic lethal violence, and suppression of speech.”

The day falls on the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, when Lenin began a revolt against the ruling Russian Parliament, leading his forces into the Russian capital.

An amendment to the original bill adds a date for the State Board of Education to adopt a revised social studies curriculum to comply with the legislation.

Anthony Verdugo, founder and executive director of the Christian Family Coalition, based in Miami, applauded the way the legislation is combatting the collective amnesia about communism he argues is taking hold among younger generations.

“It should concern all of us that surveys show that 28 to 33 percent of millennials and Generation Z members actually have a favorable view of communism or Marxism,” he said.

Sen. Audrey Gibson said she also hopes a discussion of racial disparities and the horrors of slavery will make it into state statutes the same way as this proposes for communism.

We should “expose our students so that they learn the totality of what has happened in the United States,” she said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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