Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Studying Civics

Last year, a poll conducted by the Florida Bar revealed that many Floridians don't understand some basic principles of America's democratic system of government. Only 59% of residents surveyed, for example, knew that the three branches of government are legislative, executive and judicial [Of Counsel, March, FloridaTrend.com].

The results sent outgoing Bar President Alan B. Bookman on a crusade to introduce civic education to the state's schoolchildren; the Florida Law Related Education Association found that fewer than 10% of Florida's 67 counties require civics classes in middle school.

Bookman and law-related education association director Annette Boyd Pitts were successful in lobbying the Legislature to include a civics education requirement in this year's education reform bill (HB 7087).

One line in the 160-page bill states that students must take "three middle school or higher courses in social studies, one semester of which must include the study of state and federal government and civics education."

Gov. Bush signed the bill this summer. Pitts' group hopes to work with the state Department of Education on model civics curriculum.