Florida Board of Education to consider civic literacy requirements for college students

Former state Sen. Don Gaetz explains his proposal to promote civic literacy in the Florida Constitution during March 20 deliberations of the Constitution Revision Commission. [The Florida Channel]
Former state Sen. Don Gaetz explains his proposal to promote civic literacy in the Florida Constitution during March 20 deliberations of the Constitution Revision Commission. [The Florida Channel]
Published May 4

Florida's drive to improve students' understanding of civics continues forward, even as the Constitution Revision Commission pushes a measure to require such action within the state constitution.

The Florida Board of Education will consider a rule May 16 to set the standards for civics literacy competency for all students entering the Florida college system for the first time, beginning with the 2018-19 academic year.

The proposal is made necessary by a law change within the omnibus 2017 education act HB 7069.

It would set forth two courses or three tests students could select among and pass to demonstrate, as lawmakers put it, "an understanding of the basic principles of American democracy and how they are applied in our republican form of government, an understanding of the United States Constitution, knowledge of the founding documents and how they have shaped the nature and functions of our institutions of self-governance, and an understanding of landmark Supreme Court cases and their impact on law and society."

To meet the requirement, students could take American Government or Introductory Survey since 1877 in college. They also could score 3 on the Advanced Placement American Government and Politics exam, 4 on the AP United States History exam or 50 on the CLEP American Government exam.

The Department of Education is taking comments on the proposed rule through May 14, in advance of the board action.

Some Floridians, meanwhile, have asked why the state needs to place a civic literacy mandate in the constitution given the Legislature's action and pending State Board rule, which show such a requirement can be implemented without an amendment. (That's civics in action, right?)

The civics piece is in a three-pronged proposed amendment that also would set school board member term limits and allow the establishment of a state charter school authorizer. It is set to go to voters in November.

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