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'Listening Tour' Coming To Macclenny Ahead Of Education Standards Vote

Children wait to enter classrooms, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, at the Carrie P. Meek/Westview K-8 Center in Miami.
Children wait to enter classrooms, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, at the Carrie P. Meek/Westview K-8 Center in Miami.

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 also 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.

The nearest meeting for First Coast area residents will be held on Wednesday, June 9, from 6-7 p.m. at Macclenny Elementary School, 1 Wild Kitten Drive, Macclenny, FL 32062, in Baker County.

Meetings are also being held in Miami Dade and Osceola counties.

“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 foronline public comment already is open for the proposed rule.

Editor's Note: During a routine fact check, a Department of Education link in the preceeding paragraph wasn't working, returning an "error loading page message," although it was working earlier in the day.

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 9 a.m. at the Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Advanced Technology Center, 401 West State Street, Room T140/141, Jacksonville, FL 32202.

- WJCT News' Bill Bortzfield contributed to this story.