Florida launched its first-ever civics program to prepare high school and college graduates for public service.
As Florida K-12 students excel in civics, according to national studies, the state’s Civic Literacy Excellence Initiative program helped lay the groundwork of a new national curriculum, and Florida’s commitment to educational freedom resonates across the country, according to a poll commissioned by a national teachers’ union.
Three colleges are launching civic academies and developing a new public service career path initiative to prepare students for public service. The initiative is expected to launch in August 2023 and 1,000 students are expected to enroll in the 2023-2024 academic year.
Polk State College, Broward College and Florida State College in Jacksonville received $6.5 million in grants to develop what the state hopes will become a national model. Through Civics Academies, students will learn the importance of public trust, government effectiveness, the value of public service, and working in local, state, or federal government.
“This one-of-a-kind program will teach our future leaders core American values as they prepare for careers in public service,” DeSantis said when the program was announced.
“A solid civics education is a necessity for those entering public service,” Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said. “By providing students with a pathway to pursue careers in the public sector, Florida ensures a smarter, more efficient state and local government for years to come.”
Colleges will work with the Florida Department of Education, Florida College System, school districts, municipalities and local businesses to develop the program led by the Lou Frey Institute. The institute has already developed a civic assessment currently administered by institutions across Florida, said its director, Stephen Masyada.
The new initiative expands this work “by creating a secondary civics curriculum and supported teacher training that will ensure students graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills to succeed in both the public sector and the advanced career preparation in the public service,” he said.
Students will be able to take courses in public service leadership, careers and communication, experiential learning, attend a research seminar, and participate in pre-learning and apprenticeship opportunities and internship programs remunerated with local and state agencies. They will also be able to take industry certification exams for Project Management (PMP) and SCRUM, Advanced Microsoft Office, Adobe, among others.
The training will help students obtain the qualifications they need to apply for the positions of Grants Manager, Program Analyst and Support Staff, Licensing Specialist, Policy/Government Affairs Analyst, Specialist from HR Support, Project Manager/Social Worker, Procurement Specialist, and City/Department Head, among others.
Florida’s Civic Literacy Excellence Initiative was first launched last July with $106 million in funding. The additional $6.5 million was allocated to colleges to expand the Civics Academies program and expand partnerships between high schools and government institutions.
In 2019, DeSantis set a goal to make Florida the top US state in workforce training. Since then, Florida has invested more than $5 billion in workforce training and expanded access to more than 300 apprenticeship programs. There are currently more than 770,000 K-12 students enrolled in vocational and technical education programs, the most in state history.