Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Ron DeSantis announces national debate competition

The competition, funded mostly by one of his biggest donors, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, creates a national competition.
Gov. Ron DeSantis. [STEVE CANNON  |  AP]
Gov. Ron DeSantis. [STEVE CANNON | AP]
Published Jan. 27

BOCA RATON — Gov. Ron DeSantis visited a Boca Raton middle school Monday to announce a plan to make Florida a leader in speech and debate programs for students in middle school and high school, funded mostly by one of his biggest donors, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus.

Flanked by students on the Omni Middle School debate team who won a district competition in November, DeSantis laid out some details of a new partnership between the Florida Department of Education and the Billi and Bernie Marcus Foundation. The initiative, he said, will expand opportunities for civics, speech and debate programs in middle and high schools and create a “first of its kind” national competition.

Marcus, according to DeSantis, pledged $5 million over the next three years to the Florida Education Foundation. DeSantis said he set aside $375,000 in his proposed budget for the civics and debate initiative. Much of that funding will go toward training teachers and providing them with resources, he said.

“The goal is to make us a nationwide leader in training high school teachers in all Florida counties and to also show an example to other states as we begin to do a competitive speech and debate program at their schools,” DeSantis said. “There’s value to doing this if we’re going to promote civics education.”

The announcement falls in line with the DeSantis’ emphasis on civics education. On Monday he touted his plan to implement a civics test for high school seniors that would be similar to the citizenship test for naturalized American citizens.

DeSantis gave a few examples of hot topics for students to debate, such as government funding of religious schools and the use of the atomic bomb to end World War II. Topics like those, he said, would give students a greater understanding of history.

More speech and debate opportunities could mean other benefits beyond the schoolhouse, he said.

“We live in an era right now where everyone’s kind of buried in their electronic devices and it’s almost as if people engage more in text messaging than just person to person contact some time,” DeSantis said. “I think that there’s value in having a student be able to just stand up and address a group of people or address one person and try to persuade them of a certain position.”

“A device cannot substitute for that,” he added.

Marcus, a Georgia businessman who now resides in Boca Raton, was an early supporter of DeSantis. In 2017, he donated $250,000 to DeSantis’ political action committee, Fund for Florida’s Future. A representative from Marcus’ foundation said Marcus was ill and could not attend the announcement.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  1. Florida Polytechnic University's main Innovation, Science and Technology Building. [DEMETRIUS FREEMAN   |   Times]
  2. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D- Orlando  [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. FILE- In this July 1, 2013 file photo, is the exterior of the Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals office in St. Louis. The generic drugmaker Mallinckrodt has a tentative $1.6 billion deal to settle lawsuits over its role in the U.S. opioid crisis, it announced Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. The deal is intended to end hundreds of lawsuits faced by the company over opioids. (Whitney Curtis/AP Images for Mallinckrodt, File) [WHITNEY CURTIS  |  AP]
  4. In this June 17, 2019, file photo, a cashier displays a packet of tobacco-flavored Juul pods at a store in San Francisco. Investigators from 39 states will look into the marketing and sales of vaping products by Juul Labs, including whether the company targeted youths and made misleading claims about nicotine content in its devices, officials announced Tuesday. Juul released a statement saying it has halted television, print and digital advertising and eliminated most flavors in response to concerns by government officials and others.  (AP Photo/Samantha Maldonado, File) [SAMANTHA MALDONADO  |  AP]
  5. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during First in the South Dinner, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) [MATT ROURKE  |  AP]
  6. Airbnb app on a phone: The company faces a fight with regulators.
  7. In this Feb. 19 photo, from left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. [JOHN LOCHER  |  AP]
  8. Melody Keeth, the former chair of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, testifies in the Florida House on Monday about how she and the board approved $7.5M in compensation to the nonprofit's former CEO. [Florida Channel]
  9. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign event on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP) [NICK WAGNER  |  AP]
  10. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vt. speaks at a campaign event in El Paso, Texas, on Feb. 22, 2020. [CEDAR ATTANASIO  |  AP]
  11. Sen. Audrey Gibson, leader of the Florida Senate Democrats, introduces a bill in January to refocus the $900 million proposed for teacher pay into salaries for all public school employees. It's just one of many ideas still floating around Tallahassee relating to educator raises. [The Florida Channel]
  12. Ten current and former members of the board of directors of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence and two top executives have been asked to testify to a Florida House committee about a pay scandal. The hearings begin today. [SAMANTHA J. GROSS | Times/Herald]
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement