Ron DeSantis wants graduating seniors to take civics test
Gov. DeSantis decries draconian orders.

Governor said knowledge of U.S> history will ensure true freedom.

Florida’s graduating high school seniors this year will take a test similar to ones immigrants take to secure U.S. citizenship.

At a stop in Naples, Gov. Ron DeSantis, who long favored requiring Civics courses in school, said he wants to know how much students understand about U.S. government. With Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran at his side, the Governor said knowledge of the work of the Founding Fathers would ensure lifelong freedom.

“I’m going to direct Commissioner Corcoran to require all high school seniors [in] Florida to take a civics exam similar to the citizenship exam taken by our naturalized citizens,” DeSantis said.

To a roomful of supporters at North Collier Regional Park, DeSantis discussed the way his own studies of the nation’s history informed his values. He coursed through everything from the plot of Hamilton to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have A Dream” speech. All took their inspiration from the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

DeSantis also took swipes at judicial activism, something he said the Founders would detest. But he praised a system of checks and balances, a framework that allowed the Constitution to be amended, and a decision to let a single executive lead the country despite recently revolting from a monarchy.

DeSantis later told press he disagreed with the merits of the current impeachment articles against President Donald Trump. Though mostly, he said, Washington, D.C. was off track in accomplishing things for the American people because leaders were distracted by the process.

DeSantis and Corcoran said they would like current seniors to take the test. But that would likely only provide the state with data.

“I would like initially to just understand where we are,” DeSantis said. “You see some of these national numbers where they do surveys and it’s pretty bad. I kind of think we would do a little better than that. But take it to show where we are, where the deficiencies are, and then build up. “

When asked by Florida Politics if passage of the test might ever become a graduation requirement, DeSantis said he was open to the possibility at some point.

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” he said. “But I think my main goal with this is just to see if we are okay. What more do we need to do? And then how to we make sure folks have a good foundation going forward?”

Corcoran said the administration will need to work with the Legislature this session to find out what it is “allowed to do” in rolling out tests. It’s likely the test could also be tied to a reward for students who do well, as opposed to punishing students who fail the test.

Of course, Corcoran noted the announcement came near DeSantis’ announcement that Florida was ending Common Core standards, in part because of dissatisfaction with testing. The intent is for the state now to scale back other tests as this one gets added to the high school curriculum.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Julia

    December 10, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    It would be one thing for DeSantis and Corcoran to use the Citizenship test simply to learn how ignorant high school students are; it would be something else again for them to take it to meet a civics requirement at anything above 5th grade level. The U.S. Immigration Services Citizenship Test consists of 100 short answer questions, all of which (along with their answers) are on-line. It consists of such high level questions as “Name Your state’s governor,” and “Name a state that borders Canada.” Of those 100 questions, 10 are chosen at random for immigrants to answer; of those 10, they must answer 6 to pass. Using it to meet any kind of civics requirement would be an insult. Two years ago the Department of Education tried to implement a rule saying that college students could use the citizenship to test to meet their college civic requirement, but the Joint Administrative Procedure Committee shot them down. The Board of Governors then asked the Lou Frey Institute to create a Citizenship-Lite test for use in the universities, which the Frey Institute later disavowed, but which the BOG adopted anyway. The Citizenship Test does not measure anything and DeSantis and Corcoran would do better to use a real test, like the AP Exams or CLEP Exam.

  • martin

    December 11, 2019 at 11:06 am

    since we have a congresswoman (from the state of NY) who didn’t know what the three branches of government were, we certainly have lowered high school graduation standards.

  • D-U-M-P T-R-U-M-P !!!

    December 11, 2019 at 11:35 am

    A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y! B-U-T … you NEED TO TEACH THEM CIVICS before you test them on it … and … that teaching should begin in first grade and continue throughout the twelve grades!!!

    • jon

      December 11, 2019 at 12:14 pm

      Probably the only sane thing you have ever said. Of course if they taught civics with a focus on the the bill of rights and the constitution, the Democrat party would disappear in one generation! That’s exactly why the Democrats took over education and removed any political history from the curriculum!

  • Tracy Beattie

    December 11, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    The State of Florida ALREADY TESTS CIVICS – in 7th Grade with an EOC! I don’t understand why the governor is looking to add yet another test!

Comments are closed.


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