Lour Frey Exam promotes good citizenship

With the 2012 election behind us, attention can turn to the role of schools in educating future voters. 

Florida is field testing an end-of-course civics exam this school year, with plans to roll it out statewide next year. Simultaneously, schools have been working to strengthen civics education, incorporating lessons from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Former Republican Congressman Lou Frey Jr. has been a leading advocate for finding ways to develop a more engaged and informed citizenry. The Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government, based at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, has worked for the past 10 years on programs that teach civic and political skills. Many of the programs have been put to use in Brevard schools.

FLORIDA TODAY spoke with Frey, who served in Congress for 10 years, representing Brevard, Orange, Osceola and Indian River counties. Below is an excerpt from the interview, which you can read in full by clicking here.

Question: How should schools continue to keep students interested in government and politics?

Frey: The campaign and the election may be over, but the profoundly important issues that were debated in the campaign — the economy, health care, Social Security, taxes and all the rest — are not going away. One of the best things that schools can do is to help students learn the realities that underlie those issues and how they will impact their future.

Along with that, students need the opportunity to learn the critically important lesson that when presented with the same set of facts, two people can reasonably come to entirely different conclusions about what needs to be done. Our schools are laboratories that can provide young people with the opportunity to learn to listen to each other, to discuss hard issues in a civil way, and to look for common ground. The excitement of American government is not really about campaigns, it is about forging solutions to the real issues that affect the lives of all of our citizens.

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