Florida School Bulletin on Americanism vs. Communism, 1961

Florida School Bulletin on Americanism vs. Communism, 1961



Because of the public interest in this subject, this article has been reprinted from


Published by the
Tallahassee, Florida

THOMAS D> BAILEY, Superintendent



Because of the public interest in this subject, this article has been reprinted from


Published by the
Tallahassee, Florida

THOMAS D> BAILEY, Superintendent



By Fred W. Turner

Assistant Division Director, General Education
State Department of Education

FOR MANY of the schools of Florida, teaching about the evils and fallacies of communism has been an integral part of the instructional program for several years. Not all schools however, have been able to offer instruction about communism. This has been so for a variety of reasons, one of which has been lack of support from local citizens. Only recently have large numbers of citizens agreed to permit instruction about communism in the schools.

An attempt was made in 1955, through a joint effort of the State Department of Education and The Florida Bar Association, to place more emphasis on teaching about communism. This effort resulted in the publication of a lecture, The Meaning of Communism. Members of The Florida Bar have presented this lecture to thousands of students in the schools of the State since 1956.

The Meaning of Communism has been selected as a model program for use throughout the nation, and in 1958 was one of a series of lectures awarded the Freedom Foundation Thomas Jefferson Award for the best community program carried out in the nation by a non-profit organization.

Recognizing the importance of informing all students about the dangers of communism to our way of life, the 1961 session of the Florida Legislature enacted a law making it mandatory for all public high schools in the State to teach "no later than the school year commencing in September, 1962," a course entitled "Americanism versus Communism." Since the enactment of the law the State Department of Education has devoted considerable study and planning to the problem of helping schools meet this requirement.

Research About Communism

Prior to and following the 1961 session of the Legislature, the Department made a study of most of the current publications of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the Senate Internal Security Sub-


DECEMBER, 1961 29


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committee to determine which documents about communism would be suitable for use in the schools. The chairmen of these Congressional Committees were requested to give their opinion as to the best informed persons in the nation on the subject of communism. The persons recommended were consulted, either by correspondence or personal interview, to secure their assistance and advice concerning the content and approach that should be used in teaching about communism in the public schools.

In addition to enlisting the assistance of these persons, State Department of Education personnel secured information about communism through attending conferences, such as the conference sponsored by the Institute for American Strategy, an organization composed of leading professional educators, political scientists, business executives, and military personnel.

After studying the publications of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the Internal Security Subcommittee, consulting nationally recognized authorities, and attending conferences on the subject of communism, it became increasingly evident that some specific organizational structure suitable for an instructional program in the public schools was essential.

Specifically, the scope and sequence of the course had to be developed before instruction about communism would have meaning for the students. For example, many of the publications of the Congressional Committees are suitable for use in a study about communism, but they are limited in that most of them deal with only a specific aspect of the subject. While specificity is important and desirable, a more comprehensive study is necessary if the learner is to obtain a broad picture of the communist movement.

In planning the scope, sequence, and course content of an instructional unit on communism, ideas were solicited from college professors who have had extensive experience in teaching and writing on the subject, from the research directors of the Congressional Committees, and from personnel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In addition, it was deemed advisable to secure the services of one of the best informed persons in the nation to assist the Department in developing the scope and sequence of the course, as well as the concepts that should be included in it. Dr. Gerhart Niemeyer, Professor of Political Science, Notre Dame University, was selected to serve in this capacity. Dr. Niemeyer has the endorsement of the chairmen of both Congressional Committees, as well as that of his colleagues who have for many years been combating communism through presenting the facts about it. Advisory Committee

To assist with the program, Superintendent Bailey appointed an Advisory Committee, composed of members of the Legislature, lay citizens, and educators, to advise the Department in its development of the resource unit. Members of this committee are:

Mr. Hartley Blackburn
Superintendent of Public Instruc-
tion of Manatee County, Braden-
ton, Florida

Mrs. D. R. Bowman
Treasurer of the Florida Congress of
Parents and Teachers, Pensacola,

Mr. Dan Jenkins
Supervising Principal of Haines
City Schools, Polk County, Haines
City, Florida

Mr. John McKay, Jr.
Chairman of The Florida Bar Com-
mittee and member of The Ameri-
can Bar Committee on Communist
Tactics, Strategy and Objectives,
Miami, Florida

Hon. G. T. Melton
Senator, 14th District, Chairman
of the 1961 Senate Committee on
Education, Lake City, Florida

Mr. C. N. Merinkers
Former Commander, Florida Vet-
erans of Foreign Wars, member of
the National VFW Americanism
and Community Service Committee,
Eau Gallie, Florida

Mr. David Meuser
Social Studies teacher, Southwest
Junior High School, Brevard Coun-
ty, Melbourne, Florida

Mr. Frank Reyes
Member of the Americanism Com-
mittee of the American Legion,
Jacksonville, Florida

Mr. Thomas Rothchild
Director of Secondary Education,
Pinellas County Schools, Clear-
water, Florida.

Mrs. Mary C. Row
Social Studies teacher, Boone High
School, Orange County, Orlando,

Mr. A. Bradford Smith
Chairman of The Florida Bar Com-
mittee on American Citizenship,
Venice, Florida

Hon. George Stallings, Jr.
Representative, Duval County, spon-
sor of the Americanism vs. Com-
munism legislation, Jacksonville,

Mr. Robert Wilson
Secondary Supervisor, Dade County
Schools, Miami, Florida

Dr. Gerhart Niemeyer,
Professor of Political Science at
Notre Dame University and a con-
sultant on communism to the
House Committee on Un-American

The Advisory Committee held its first meeting on October 19-20, 1961. Included in the topics discussed during the first day of the meeting were: legal requirements, objectives of the unit, subject matter of the unit, grade level for the unit, printed instructional materials for teachers to study in preparing to teach the unit, and additional preparation for teachers Who will teach the unit.

On the second day of the meeting Dr. Gerhart Niemeyer met with the committee. In his discussion with the committee, Dr. Niemeyer emphasized that the

[photo caption]

Dr. Fred Turner, State Department of Education Assistant Division Director, General Education; Dr. Gerhart Niemeyer, Professor of Political Science at Notre Dame University and consultant to the House Committee on Un-American Activities; and State School Superintendent Thomas D. Bailey look over a book about Communism. Dr. Turner is directing the development of a resource unit for teachers and Dr. Niemeyer is serving as consultant to the Department. Superintendent Bailey has appointed a committee of 13 educators and laymen to advise the Department in the preparation of the resource unit.

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course must not become involved in politics, if the program is to survive.


Among the tentative recommendations made by the committee to the Department were:

1. The phrase, "public high school," in Section 2 of the law should be interpreted to mean grades 10-12. Before recommending the specific grade level at which the course should be taught, the course content must be developed.

2. The critical analysis approach should be used in teaching "Communism versus Americanism" rather than a mere comparison and contrast of the two systems. In using the critical analysis approach, the teacher should emphasize the fallacies and contradictions of Communism.

3. The use of communist material, such as the Communist Manifesto, should not be excluded from the instructional program. However, when materials written by communists are used, they should be clearly identified as such and students should be informed that the material is of communist origin. These materials should be used only to teach evils, fallacies, and contradictions of communism.

4. Since most high schools have fifty-five minute periods for all classes, a six weeks program where the classes meet daily would meet the minimum requirements of the law. Since more than six weeks may be needed to complete the entire course, the essential parts of the unit should be identified.

5. All materials used in teaching about communism should be carefully screened by experts in the field and limited to those included in the bibliography of the resource unit.

6. Prior to beginning instruction about communism, the general public and parents should be informed. It was suggested that a brochure be prepared which would outline the purposes of the course.

7. The teacher assigned to this course should be carefully selected.

8. Arrangements should be made for further training of teachers who may need additional preparation for teaching the course.

9. The content of the course should have its focus on three topics; namely, the Communist Party, its ideology, and the Soviet System.

A problem confronting the schools in the inauguration of this program during the school year beginning in September, 1962, is the unavailability of organized resource material for students. At the present time no suitable textbooks have been published. Several publishers are planning publications, but whether any of these books will be available or suitable will have to be determined by the State Textbook Committee. This committee, which will be appointed later this year, will evaluate all textbooks submitted in the adoption.

Materials for study by teachers in programs for the course have been collected and are now being studied and evaluated by Dr. Niemeyer and other authorities. A bibliography will be prepared to accompany the course of study.

Plans are being made by Florida State University, the University of Florida, and Florida A & M University to provide training for teachers who feel they need further preparation to teach this subject. At present, two junior colleges are also planning to offer courses for teachers who will be assigned to teach about communism.

A tentative draft of the resource unit for teachers to use in preparing to teach about communism is now being prepared. The unit will be presented to the Advisory Committee on January 26, 1962. It is hoped the final copy will be ready for distribution early in March. Teachers who feel competent to do so and have not already taught a unit about communism during the current school term will be encouraged to use the unit during the second semester. Teachers should not, however, attempt to use the unit this year without being thoroughly familiar with its content.

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DECEMBER, 1961 33




State Library of Florida: Florida State Documents, F320.532s A512


Reprinted pamphlet describing Florida State Department of Education efforts to develop a high school course on "Americanism vs. Communism."


December 1961


Florida State Department of Education


Florida. State Department of Education.




Cold War Florida (1945-1990)

General Note

Following the Bay of Pigs Invasion in April 1961, the 1961 Florida Legislature passed a law (233.064 (1961), Florida Statutes) mandating all junior and senior public high school students in Florida take the six-week course, Americanism vs. Communism. An educational television version of the course was also filmed and circulated to students. The course remained an educational requirement until the law was repealed in 1983 and replaced with a mandatory economics course.