This month St. Petersburg College hosted a statewide forum, “Closing the Gap: The Florida College System Civics Literacy Initiative,” which aimed to come up with ways to enhance civic learning and democratic engagement for students in the Florida College System.
The initiative is inspired and supported by former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, who has made the revival of civics education a passion since retiring in 2005. Graham, pictured below upper left, was the keynote speaker Oct. 9.
The project, in partnership with the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida, the Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida, the Education Commission of the States and the FCS Council of Presidents, seeks to close the civics education gap that many American leaders regard as a national crisis and to regenerate citizen engagement.
The ultimate goal is to teach the basics of democracy to the current and succeeding generations in the state college system and to provide tools and resources for the K-12 school system. The purpose of the workshop was to design the tools and methods to put into action five initiatives identified by key stakeholders at a strategy session at the Collaborative Labs in April:
• Develop models to integrate civic literacy into cross-curriculum coursework
• Survey the Florida College System for best practices and establish an on-going clearing house to measure progress and share successes
• Embed civic literacy in the mission statements of the colleges in the FCS
• Develop a FCS Model Legislature
• Develop strategies to promote civic engagement among domestic and international immigrants and other special populations
Participants included Florida College System Chancellor Randy Hanna, center below; Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, President Bill Law, below right; Eugene Pettis, president of the Florida Bar; and a number of state education officials.