Florida Dept. of Education proposed curriculum changes for K-12 on civics, Holocaust, character

Education

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TAMPA (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Education is starting a statewide listening tour to get public feedback about updates or add-ins to the state curriculum, including Holocaust education and updates to the civics and government curriculum.

The proposed curriculum changes are detailed for what they would teach to students for kindergarten through 12th grade.

Civics & government standards

For kindergarten through 12th grade, new civics and government standards would teach students about the foundations of the country’s government, laws and political systems.

As the curriculum advances with the students, the complexity of material would increase. Included in each grade’s standards are items like understanding the structure of government and how it functions, and requiring students to be able to describe and demonstrate the characteristics of being a responsible citizen, as well as political participation.

One example, even in the kindergarten portion, includes defining patriotism as a love of your country and identifying symbols that represent the United States.

As students learn and grow, the curriculum adds requirements for students to identify important individuals from American history and ways to demonstrate patriotism, identify important documents like the Declaration of Independence, and understand the way that the federal and state governments interact.

By 12th grade students would be expected to be able to demonstrate an understanding of the origins and purpose of America’s government, laws and political system, as well as evaluate the roles, rights and responsibilities of a U.S. Citizen and ways to actively participate in the system and society.

Additionally, students would be expected to understand contemporary issues in world affairs and evaluate the role of the U.S. and its foreign policy’s impact.

Below, see what each grade level’s standards would be if the proposal passes.

Holocaust education standards

Beginning in 4th grade, students would be taught about the Holocaust. First, the curriculum would focus on how to compare and contrast Judaism to other major religions around the world, as well as in the U.S. and Florida.

In 5th grade, students would be taught how to identify antisemitism as prejudice against, or hatred of the Jewish people, with the Holocaust being “history’s most extreme example of antisemitism,” according to the curriculum notes.

By middle school, students will learn about the Holocaust as a planned and systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of European Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators from 1933 to 1945, building on the foundation of the Holocaust as an example of extreme antisemitism that they learned in the years before.

In high school, students would learn to analyze the origins of antisemitism, its use by the Nazi regime in Germany, and explain the significant events, public policies, and experiences of the Holocaust. This includes the political and social fluctuations from the start of World War II to the treaties that led to the spread of antisemitism in Germany and the rise of the Nazis.

The educational standards also contain units about understanding partisanship and the role it played in World War II, death marches, the experiences of Holocaust survivors, the role of corporate complicity during the war, and teach students the history of WWII through the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948, including the Zionist movement.

Below, see what each grade level’s standards would be if the proposal passes.

Character education standards

The proposed new curriculum also includes a set of standards on character education. While the state Standards Review site says the character education materials will be updated soon, there are already some materials available. The following is based on the current previewed materials.

The new standards proposed for K-12 curriculum in Florida has five sections:

  • Self-Control and Responsibility
  • Resiliency and Self-Motivation
  • Leadership Skills
  • Kindness, Honesty and Empathy
  • Cooperation and Conflict Resolution

The units are split into two “Strands:” Self and Relationships. Self-Control and Responsibility and Resiliency and Motivation are in the Self Strand, while Leadership Skills, Kindness, Honesty and Empathy and Cooperation and Conflict Resolution are in the Relationships Strand.

From the document on the Standards Review site, the new standards proposed for character education include lessons for understanding feelings, ethics and how to work with others for a positive outcome, as well as how students can explore their strengths and weaknesses to grow and succeed.

Below, see what each grade level’s standards would be if the proposal passes.

Substance use & abuse standards

The materials for the new substance use and abuse educational standards have not been released yet. The state’s Standards Review site says they are “coming soon.”

Access Points for students with significant cognitive disabilities

The listening tour also covers a new program called Access Points – Alternate Academic Achievement Standards for Student with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities. The standards cover English Language Arts and Mathematics for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

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