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New civics curriculum available for fourth graders

Corcoran

Richard Corcoran

A new civics curriculum is available for Florida fourth graders, and all Florida residents will have access to it online for free.

The Florida Department of Education has approved a curriculum created by the state House. Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said the curriculum can only improve on Florida’s third-place ranking in K-12 achievement.

Within the state’s “backdrop of quality and excellence,” the legislature presented a (new) civics and government curriculum,” Sprowls said, which was approved by the Department of Education. The department certified the curriculum to meet state Civics and Government Standards.

Sprowls spearheaded the initiative after he learned there was a lack of Florida-specific civics curricula available in grade schools. He targeted the curriculum for the fourth grade because he said it’s the grade in which students are already learning about Florida’s history. The curriculum expands on what they are being taught, he added.

Corcoran

“The Florida House of Representatives has a reputation for blazing trails by being one of the most innovative legislative bodies in the nation, and this new civics curriculum is proof of their dedication to improving the education that Florida’s 2.9 million students receive,” Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said. The Florida House was “the first legislative body in the nation to craft and develop a set of civics curriculum for students and teachers to utilize,” he said.

The House consulted with public school teachers and the House Clerk’s Office developed the materials for the curriculum. There’s no obligation for schools to use it, although it’s available for free online for everyone’s use. Anyone of any age can learn more about Florida civics by downloading the information. The curriculum includes sample lesson plans, benchmarks and quizzes in the form of games.

The House is also developing a website to allow teachers, administrators, parents and home school instructors to download materials to use the curriculum.

The topics include Bingo Lingo, Voting is Easy, We the People of the State of Florida, Florida Trivia, Paths to Public Service, and Mock Bill Challenge.

In Paths to Public Service, students “choose an adventure” to travel the path of a Florida teacher, learn how to serve as elected officials, or about the roles and rewards of being a public servant.

In the Mock Bill Challenge, students learn how a bill becomes law. They learn how to create their own bill, present it to a committee, and how to question, debate and vote on it.

In Florida Trivia, students learn key facts, terms, figures and places in state government. Using PowerPoint flashcards, they participate in an interactive Jeopardy-style trivia game.

In Bingo Lingo, students can learn terms, figures and places in state and federal government. Similar to the Florida Trivia game, they learn using Bingo cards instead of the Jeopardy style flashcards.

In Voting is Easy, they learn how the voting process works and use a realistic-looking ballot.

In We the People of the State of Florida, they learn about the Florida Constitution, including key terms and sections.


Local
Inverness event hooks large crowds

In an effort to cast a wider net this year, the city of Inverness expanded its popular Big Bass Classic on Saturday, March 19, rebranding it as the the Big Bass, Bluegrass & BBQ. Consider it a success as the downtown area was packed throughout the day. To hook city visitors and get them to stay for the day, Inverness Parks and Recreation Director Woody Worley said the city decided to add food and bluegrass music. The day’s events began at 7 a.m. and wrapped up at 3:30.p.m. The event was hosted at Liberty Park. In addition to the city of Inverness’ event, the Key Training Center hosted the 15th annual Clean Air Bike Ride, which started and ended in downtown Inverness. The events made for a busy, crowd packed area throughout downtown Inverness.

In an effort to cast a wider net this year, the city of Inverness expanded its popular Big Bass Classic on Saturday, March 19, rebranding it as the the Big Bass, Bluegrass & BBQ.

Consider it a success as the downtown area was packed throughout the day.

To hook city visitors and get them to stay for the day, Inverness Parks and Recreation Director Woody Worley said the city decided to add food and bluegrass music.

The day’s events began at 7 a.m. and wrapped up at 3:30.p.m. The event was hosted at Liberty Park.

In addition to the city of Inverness’ event, the Key Training Center hosted the 15th annual Clean Air Bike Ride, which started and ended in downtown Inverness.

The events made for a busy, crowd packed area throughout downtown Inverness.


Local
Nonprofit Spotlight
Nonprofit Spotlight: CASA

Editor’s note: Every community depends on the resources and support that nonprofit agencies provide people, whether physical, material or emotional.

The Chronicle’s ongoing series, Nonprofit Spotlight, profiles the nonprofit agencies in Citrus County that exist to help make life better for us all.

To have your nonprofit organization considered for a spotlight, here’s the link to an online form you can fill out: www.chronicleonline.com/site/forms/nonprofit_spotlight.

You’re stuck in a situation without believing there is a safe place to escape, a place that offers comfort and security. In Citrus County, there is safe haven for those seeking to escape a violent relationship: the Citrus Abuse Shelter Association (CASA).

The mission of the CASA, according to Sunshine Arnold, executive director, is to help victims and survivors of domestic violence by providing shelter, safety, intervention and education as well as to educate the community for social change. Its vision to end domestic violence includes the following steps:

Providing a safe, supportive environment;

Instilling confidence and self-esteem;

Supplying information and resources;

Teaching individuals and children non-violent alternatives;

Encouraging people to realize personal goals; and,

Acting as agents of social change.

CASA, which is a private, nonprofit organization formed in May 1983, got its start with a grassroots effort, being led by local volunteers with a mission to empower victims of domestic violence to become independent. Since then, CASA now has a staff of 21 paid employees, which includes four part-time employees and two contracted service providers, and 12 volunteers who assist with day-to-day operations, said Arnold, who has been executive director for the past six years.

Arnold

“We can always use more (volunteers) to help with our mission,” Arnold said, noting those interested in volunteering can find out more by visiting casafl.org/get-involved.

CASA, which has annual budget of $1.1 million, is funded through federal, state and local grants. The nonprofit agency also depends on local contributions from organizations and individuals as it must match all government funds with 25 percent local dollars.

“Without local donations from individuals we cannot receive the government funding,” Arnold explained.

CASA doesn’t serve just domestic violence survivors, but their children as well. And the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant spike in the number of households experiencing violence and the extent of the violence with increased serious injuries. Calls to the CASA hotline and the services it provides has increased by nearly 25 percent since the beginning of 2020, Arnold said.

“Domestic violence is a complex issue, which affects every single one of us,” Arnold said. “Domestic violence is a serious social problem and a national health concern with significant negative impacts on individuals and our communities.”

Domestic violence – physical or emotional abuse – reaches every corner of our society, Arnold said. It does not respect class, race, religion, culture or wealth. More than 1 in 3 women and more than 1 in 4 men in the U.S. will experience sexual assault, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

“The likelihood is we all know someone who has lived with the terrifying threat of abuse,” she said. “It is time to talk openly about domestic violence, take action to hold abusers accountable, and end the silence that has been allowed for far too long.”

For those wanting to learn more, Arnold said CASA will send a representative to speak to community organizations or businesses to raise awareness. CASA can also provide free training on recognizing and responding to domestic violence, she added.

“The more awareness we can bring the stronger our voice will be as a community that violence has no place here,” Arnold said. “CASA can also help businesses and organizations to develop domestic violence policies to support their employees who are affected by domestic violence.”

To contact CASA, call 352-344-8111, email sunshine@casafl.org or visit www.casafl.org.


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