Bob Graham, the Democratic former U.S. senator, governor and presidential candidate, says civics education in Florida is in a "tattered state."
He met with Gov. Charlie Crist and legislative leaders today, and tomorrow, he and former U.S. Rep. Lou Frey of Orlando will announce proposed reforms at an 11:30 a.m. press conference in Tallahassee.
Graham says the decline in civic ed began during the 1960s and 1970s, when the Vietnam War and Watergate prompted people to begin questioning the curriculum. And then came the FCAT.
"The advent of high-stakes testing - which does not include civics - was an additional blow,'' Graham said. "If it's not tested, they don't teach it."
Graham is asking for money to add a civics portion to the FCAT writing test, better training for civics teachers and more interesting textbooks. He says the books in most classrooms are "frankly, too dull. They teach students to be spectators rather than participants...I want kids to know they can fight city hall and be instruments for change."
Graham's first "workday" as an elected official was teaching - you guessed it - civics at Carol City High School as a young state legislator in 1974. He took on 400 different jobs during three decades in office.