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Florida Education Officials Launch 'Listening Tour'

Several children in purple hoodies sit a desk typing on laptops in a classroom setting.
Education leaders are proposing revised standards for civics and government instruction in all public school grades.

The Florida Department of Education is planning a “listening tour” over the next two weeks for people to provide input on a proposed rule seeking to revise education standards in civics and English-language arts, and to introduce new standards for several areas of instruction.

The department is proposing revised standards for civics and government instruction in kindergarten through twelfth grade, which will include analyzing the “influence of religion (Hebraic and Christian) on America’s founding ideas about law and government” for high school students.

Minor “technical” revisions, which the department said in a news release “will not affect implementation,” are being proposed for English-language arts instruction.

Alternate standards in math and English-language arts are being considered for students with “the most significant cognitive disabilities,” and will be included in the public comment period.

Education officials also are proposing the creation of new standards for teaching the Holocaust in public schools, as well as “character education” and substance use and abuse instruction.

Officials will hold three stops in which education department leaders will provide information about the standards and members of the public will be able to comment. Meetings will take place from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Miami-Dade County on Tuesday, Osceola County on Thursday and Baker County on June 9.

“The listening tour gives the public an opportunity to share their thoughts on the standards and I encourage them to participate. Their thoughts and ideas are integral to the success of the process, and because of their valuable contributions, we will have better standards to guide instruction,” Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said in a prepared statement issued Friday.

A required period allowing for online public comment already is open for the proposed rule.

The proposed standards that are the focus of the upcoming meetings are separate from another proposal that would impose strict guidelines on the way U.S. history is taught in public schools. That proposal, in part, would mandate that teachers are not allowed to “share their personal views or attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view” that is inconsistent with state standards. The State Board of Education will consider the history instruction proposal during a June 10 meeting at Florida State College in Jacksonville.