Friday, May 2, 2008

The Campaign that Wasn't Put Into Play - Part I

Florida’s Sad State of Civic Education -- part one

Florida has always feared being the nation’s poster boy for civic ignorance. Following the fiasco of Florida’s role in the presidential election in 2000, millions were spent on electronic voting machines and a $200,000 budget was hastily assembled so that teachers could receive Civic instruction. Laws were passed requiring K-12 students to parrot two sentences from the Declaration of Independence while others mandated larger flags for every classroom. What’s the big deal? How many know Floridians know that elites within the Department of Education and state legislature actually resist real civic reform in our schools? National leaders like Sen. Lamar Alexander, Congressman Jim Davis and Phyllis Schaffley regularly describe Florida as hostile to civic education. Congressman Davis actually introduced a law designed to punish Florida for no longer requiring that all students successfully complete courses in American History and American government before receiving their diploma. What’s sad is that despite being told by civic educators of the need to restore these credits plus other credits in Economics and World History for ALL high school students, Florida Senate Education Committee Chair Lee Constantine’s original bill last year would have required students complete only one course containing ‘the principles of American democracy.’ This was another one of those many attempts to pass ‘feel good’ laws on civic education. Thankfully, some legislators would have nothing of it. Floridians should thank Senator Anna Cowin for amending this shortsighted measure and for restoring the traditional civic core of high school credits as the bill went to the next committee. Her amendment passed unanimously and eventually became law. As a result, a catastrophe in civic education was averted. There is much more to do. Floridians should be asking their legislators to do more to ensure that future generations of students understand the basic principles of American democracy and economics. Visit
WWW.FCSS.ORG for more.

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