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Happy Friday, folks. My Friday column this week is about exactly what the title says.

Here's the first few of grafs:

As cliches go, ``what you don't know can hurt you'' would be an ideal motto for some members of the Florida Legislature this week.

Because while it is often great fun to take jabs at the august body in Tallahassee that found it necessary to pass laws prohibiting the sale of one's children and engaging in sex with porcupines, this week lawmakers hit a home run.

State Sen. Nancy Detert, a Venice Republican, has sponsored a bill -- the Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Civics Education Act -- mandating that middle-school students pass a civics test in order to advance.

Current state law prescribes social and civics studies for middle schoolers but doesn't require the test, which, if Detert has her way, will factor into overall grades by the 2013-14 school year and comprise 30 percent of final grades...

Read the whole thing here.

Your thoughts on such a requirement? I like it. In terms of the future of the management of this country, few things are scarier than kids who don't know and/or don't care who's running their government - local, state, federal - and what their elected officials are up to.

Look at what we have now among voting-aged adults: a mishmash of lethargic people who don't care, too-trusting people demonstrating blind loyalty along party lines, and hyper-enthusiastic people who are angry but not knowledgeable enough about the issues to know exactly what/who to be angry with.

If a mandatory civics test helps give 8th-graders a head start to learning all this stuff, I'm all for it.

PS. Follow me, please, at twitter.com/jamesburnett.


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James do you know what your problem is? Your common sense intelligence is being wasted writing for the Miami Hearald. You should consider running for office. I know I would support you! We need mature highly intelligent and honest Citizens in Government. Just think a citizen of this great country is actually going to be tasked to know why he is a citizen! I can hear all the anti-Americans complaining now! Keep up the good work.

James B.

Tony, you flatter me. Keep it up. Seriously though, thank you for the compliment. I just don't think I have the patience to be in public office. Who knows, though? Maybe some day soon I'll be reincarnated as someone who helps get worthy candidates who aren't beholden to party lines into office?-)

Matthew Mientka

Yeah, it's an interesting trend. And it's not that "Americans" or people are becoming dumber because in fact we are becoming smarter and the global IQ is rising as we face a possible technological Singularity. So it's like a Corvette spinning its tires furiously in a ditch. A lot of misdirected horsepower....

Kurt P

I agree that it should be stressed more, but... 30% of your final grade? Isn't that a bit steep?
What are they downgrading to make that more countable than math, english, history or science?


in australia for school certificate in year 10 students sit a compulsory exam in australian history and geography, and in civics. in year 6 they also travel to canberra for a school camp that includes a civics portion to go with a unit of study during the year. these things are good because today's younger generations seem to have limited general knowledge; a lot less than people of my generation have.

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