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Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. Urges Participation in Florida Civics and Debate Initiative

April 20, 2023

FDOE Press Office

Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. Urges Participation in Florida Civics and Debate Initiative

~ Local leaders and students celebrate FCDI Day at the Capitol as applications open for new teams ~

Tallahassee, Fla., April 20, 2023 – Today, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. encourages new schools to participate in the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative (FCDI) by establishing a middle or high school debate team for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year. The FCDI is the first statewide program of its kind to use debate specifically as a tool to enrich civics education. Schools that participate in the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative have demonstrated higher pass rates on both the Civics and U.S. History End-of-Course Exams than schools without an FCDI team.

Recently, 45 FCDI students from around the state traveled to Tallahassee to celebrate FCDI Day at the Capitol and discuss the importance of a strong civics education. Students participated in a mock session on the Senate floor; toured the Florida Supreme Court with Justice John Couriel; and met key state leaders including Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr., Lt. Governor Jeanette Nunez, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, and House Speaker Paul Renner.

“As we enter the fourth year of the FCDI, I’m proud to see how quickly this program has grown,” said Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. “Joining a debate team is a great opportunity for students to improve their public speaking and critical thinking skills, while developing a deeper understanding of civics. I enjoyed seeing many of our outstanding students at the capitol and was impressed with their self-confidence and professionalism.”

Applications for new teams will be accepted through midnight on May 5, 2023. All Florida traditional public or public charter middle or high schools are eligible to apply. Selected schools will receive funds to support the creation of a debate team, professional development opportunities for coaches, coach stipends, curricular resources and funding to offset transportation costs for team travel to competitions.

The application form for schools to join the FCDI for the 2023-2024 school year is available at: Florida Civics and Debate Initiative Participation Request SY 23-24.

About the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative

The Florida Civics and Debate Initiative was created in partnership by the Florida Department of Education and Florida Education Foundation and seeks to expand and enhance civic knowledge and reinvigorate public debate and civil discourse in Florida classrooms. The program’s mission is to create access and opportunities for all students to have the best civics education including curriculum, debate programs and high-quality teachers that are catalysts for students becoming great citizens who can preserve our constitutional republic for future generations.

Each year, FCDI students throughout the state compete in regional debates in addition to the National Civics and Debate Championship in the fall. FCDI introduces students to real-world issues and allows them to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of participation in the democratic process. Since its inception in 2020, FCDI speech and debate programs have expanded from 59 schools to nearly 400 schools.

For more information about the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative, visit

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