Retired statesmen push for more civics
Published: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
TALLAHASSEE — Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham said Tuesday more civics classes should be taught in Florida classrooms and he wants the subject included in the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
Graham, who also served as Florida's governor from 1979-1987, also said studies show Floridians are becoming less involved in the political process compared to citizens in other states and voting turnout is down as well.
Florida ranked 39th nationally in average voter turnout for the 2002 and 2004 general elections and 40 percent of Floridians failed to identify the three branches of government or define the concept of checks and balances, he said.
"Social studies is the only major core subject not involved in the FCAT," said former U.S. Rep. Lou Frey of Orlando, who joined Graham in the news conference.
"There's a serious problem in the way in which we are not preparing Floridians for their roles as citizens, that this is having some consequences in terms of voting and civic participation," said Graham. "Now is the time to begin to reverse that decline."
The FCAT now requires proficiency in math, writing, reading and science to graduate from high school.
Frey discussed a "boot camp" for kids to learn about "the real world of politics."
The recommendations included more civics training for teachers, updating textbooks and ensuring they include substantial Florida government history and establishing a center for citizenship.
Gov. Charlie Crist, who had visited with Frey and Graham on Monday, said he supports their effort to expand the amount of civics taught across Florida.
Graham served in the U.S. Senate from 1987 to 2005 while Frey was in Congress between 1969 and 1979.
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