Florida Measure Would Mandate Civics Class and Test

By Erik W. Robelen — March 17, 2010 1 min read
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I have still more news to report on the social studies front (sorry fans of STEM, the arts, etc...), with developments in Florida. (I blogged earlier today on the fiery standards debate in Texas.)

Apparently, Florida lawmakers are engaging in what the Orlando Sentinel newspaper calls a “high-profile and bipartisan effort” to make civics a required course for 7th graders and the subject of a new high-stakes test students would have to eventually pass to be promoted out of middle school.

The “Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Civics Education Act” also would use the civics test results to help inform school grades on the state’s A to F rating system.

To see for yourself what Florida lawmakers have in mind, you can check out legislative analyses of both the Senate and House bills online.

As the legislation’s name implies, retired Justice O’Connor has been promoting civics education lately.

In an interview last year with my colleague Mary Ann Zehr, Justice O’Connor said she became interested in the matter when she served on the high court, noting that some comments on the court by state and federal lawmakers showed a lack of understanding of the role of an independent judiciary. She told Mary Ann that she believes it’s appropriate to focus on middle schoolers because students at that age have an eagerness to learn and are “not yet bored teenagers.”

“They are soon going to be the adults running the nation, and we want our nation to function,” Justice O’Connor added. “If people don’t know the system of government we have, about the three branches of government and what citizens are expected to do, we won’t succeed.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.