Jul 16, 2019 / E-news
Students and teachers from across the nation are currently attending the Presidential and Congressional Academies for American History & Civics at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Presidential Academy teachers are receiving high-quality professional development in the content and methods of history and civics, which will benefit their students in the coming years. Like the Presidential Academy, the Congressional Academy for high school students also engages them in high-quality, interactive instruction with eminent scholars and mentor teachers.
They are joining teachers on trips to National Park Service sites, including Mount Vernon, Gettysburg, and Fort McHenry, and have the opportunity to collaborate with their peers and build their research and presentation skills through participation in a simulated congressional hearing. Both teachers and students will also engage in follow-up activities during the school year, aided by the online Student and Teacher History and Civics Forums using the resources of Learn.civiced.org.
For inquiries about participating in one of the Academies next year please contact John Hale. View photos of this year’s event on our Flickr page.
Jul 11, 2019 / E-news
In The Roots of Low Achievement: Where to Begin Altering Them, author and academic Sandra Stotsky writes about the ways in which public education has become dysfunctional because of policies designed to address low achievement.
Stotsky, a professor of education emerita at the University of Arkansas and former senior associate commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, specializes in school curriculum, K-12 standards, teacher training, and teacher licensing tests. In her book, she highlights student effort as a central factor in academic achievement, in addition to civic education and a culture that promotes civic mindedness in students at an early age.
“We have a civic culture. Kids need to learn how to maintain one via self government,” said Stotsky. In the past, Stotsky writes, regardless of academic achievement, students “learned they were politically equal to each other, with a shared civic identity.”
How do we return to these standards and values? Stotsky believes that there are a number of solutions, beginning with a focus on parent and school partnerships that revive communities’ mission for public education. One way to do this is to fund K-12 civic education programs “that restore students’ understanding of who they are as individuals in this country’s civic culture,” such as the Center for Civic Education’s programs.
The Roots of Low Achievement: Where to Begin Altering Them will be released on August 12, 2019.
Jul 11, 2019 / E-news, Project Citizen
The Center for Civic Education has received a three-year grant for the Project Citizen Research Program. The three-year grant will engage teachers from across the country in professional development and will measure the effects of the professional development on them and on their students, just as the James Madison Legacy Project did with We the People teachers and students.
In each of the three years, the Project Citizen Research Program grant will provide for four regional professional development institutes for 25 teachers apiece, ultimately reaching 300 teachers and their students over the course of the grant. The Center for Civic Education expects the Project Citizen Research Program to yield significant results and increase civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions, just as the James Madison Legacy Project did.
Students at Douglas Freeman High School in Virginia participated in Project Citizen in 2019.
Project Citizen is an interdisciplinary curricular program that promotes competent and responsible participation in local and state government. Students focus on principles and values of democracy, tolerance, and political efficacy while working together to identify an issue in their community that they care about. They create potential solutions to make a positive difference in their community before settling on one final policy solution.
Many classes and groups attend city council meetings, contact their representatives, and petition government to pass legislation that solves problems ranging from litter reduction in their neighborhoods to providing aid to homeless populations to dress codes in their schools.
Learn more about Project Citizen here.
Jul 11, 2019 / Civics in the News, E-news, We the People
Civic education advocates in Nevada and around the country are celebrating with the passage of Nevada state bill 193, signed by Governor Steve Sisolak on June 7, 2019. SB193 appropriates funds for the Nevada Center for Civic Engagement to support the continuation of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program for elementary, middle, and high school students.
Governor Steve Sisolak signs SB193.
Nevada state Senator Joyce Woodhouse created the bill, and it was sponsored by Senator David Parks, Senator Marilyn Dondero Loop, Senator Scott Hammond, Assemblyman Jason Frierson, and Assemblywoman Dina Neal. All sponsors attended the governor’s bill signing, as well as the Nevada Center for Civic Engagement’s board members: Justice Elissa Cadish, Professor Sondra Cosgrove, and Professor Michael Green.
Many students, alumni, teachers, judges, and civic education supporters testified in support of the bill in March. Teachers spoke of the program’s benefit to their classes, and students spoke of the depth of understanding they gained when studying the Constitution, democracy, and the rights of citizens. You can watch their testimony in front of the Nevada Senate Committee on Finance here.
“Our civic education programs in elementary, middle, and high schools involve parents, educators, attorneys, and others, expanding their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and current events,” said Kathleen Dickinson, the Nevada We the People state coordinator and program director of the Nevada Center for Civic Engagement. “This bill being signed into law is great for strengthening NvCCE’s present and future presence [in the state].”
You can find more information about the We the People program at the Center for Civic Education site.
Jul 11, 2019 / E-news, We the People
The “A Community Thrives” grant program from the USA Today Network and the Gannett Foundation announced its sixteen winners this June, including the Nevada Center for Civic Engagement which will receive $50,000.
With this funding, the Nevada Center for Civic Engagement (NvCCE) will be able to continue in its mission to increase civic engagement in the state’s communities, and it will give 800 youth from 34 high schools the support to participate in the We the People program and its competitions.
Kathleen Dickinson, the NvCCE program director and Nevada state coordinator for the We the People program, is focused on expanding educational resources to all who need it. “NvCCE will bring our teacher trainings to the rural areas of Nevada rather than having the teachers needing to travel to Las Vegas or Reno for the trainings,” she said. “We also hope to increase We the People and Project Citizen exposure in the elementary and middle schools throughout Nevada.”
The We the People program offers civic education curricula that teaches students about the history of the United States and its ideas about democracy, the Constitution and its ideals, and how to apply this knowledge critically to contemporary issues. Project Citizen also focuses on these concepts, while encouraging students to address issues in their own communities using policy and civic engagement to make a positive difference.
Participants at the We the People Nevada state competition in 2019.
Civic education is so important, Dickinson says, because it “increases critical thinking, communication skills, and community involvement encouraging citizen participation on all levels. Professors tell us that students exposed to We the People are better ready for college than students who have not been exposed to We the People.”
You can also support civic education and the Nevada Center for Civic Engagement by donating here.
Jul 11, 2019 / E-news, We the People
The reliable civic education lessons and curriculum of the We the People program now appear as e-books for middle and high school classes on the Actively Learn platform. The level one book for elementary students will also arrive at Actively Learn in spring 2020. All three e-books offer interactive tools for teachers and students, such as translation of text, highlighting and note taking, and manageable classroom accounts, that are adaptable for every classroom’s needs.
Actively Learn has further enhanced the e-books with upgrades that benefit teachers with diverse classroom management features. Now, teachers can assign individual sections of the textbook to their students, making it easier for the curriculum to be taught in an order unique to the class using it. However, all of these features are adaptable—teachers can assign the whole textbook if they choose instead of individual sections.
In addition, e-book licenses can be managed to fit unique user needs. One student license is no longer restricted to one student only in a year-long span of time. Instead, multiple students can use one license that is broken up into individual months to match the actual usage of the license.
Find more helpful tips on how to use the Actively Learn grade book, import your own complementary content, and give feedback to students on their assignments on the Actively Learn site. Middle school and high school learners and teachers can test the platform with a free lesson, as well as explore the books’ pricing and features.
Jul 10, 2019 / 60-Second Civics, E-news
Happy tenth anniversary to the Center for Civic Education’s very own 60-Second Civics podcast! On June 21, the podcast celebrated its anniversary with a total of 3,650 episodes, a culmination of 219,000 minutes (minimum!). Over the past decade, the podcast has led listeners through topics and lessons ranging from the origins of the Constitution to present-day issues and events.
Each day, the podcast highlights minute-long lessons in a quick and convenient way for listeners to learn. The show explores themes related to civics and government, the constitutional issues behind the headlines, and the people and ideas that formed our nation’s history and government. The show’s content is primarily derived from the Center’s education for democracy curricula, including We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution.
A Daily Civics Quiz accompanies each episode to test the audience on what they have just learned. More in-depth concepts are often spread across a brief series of episodes, so that ideas are fully comprehensible to listeners even with the brevity of each episode.
60-Second Civics is currently hosted by the Mark Gage. Past hosts have included Kaci Patterson, who launched the show, and David Hargrove.
The show is frequently used as a warmup activity in middle and high schools, with classes competing against each other to see which can keep the longest winning streak of correct answers to Daily Civics Quiz questions. Andrew Hennessey’s class from Watertown High School in Connecticut recently completed more than 148 correct responses in a row, besting the previous year’s record.
60-Second Civics is also broadcast every weekday on KTSW, the radio station for Texas State University in San Marcos.
With the committed and avid listenership of the podcast’s fans, 60-Second Civics has been able to produce content that promotes an educated, engaged citizenry. You can find the show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, YouTube, and Twitter. Fans of the Center for Civic Education’s Facebook page can watch subtitled video versions of each episode thanks to the generous support of Audiogram.
Thank you for joining us for daily episodes of 60-Second Civics and the Daily Civics Quiz for ten whole years! You can support the podcast by donating to the Center for Civic Education and by rating and reviewing the show on iTunes!
Jul 10, 2019 / E-news
The newly proposed USA Civics Act by Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware) and Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) is legislation to update an American history and civics grant program under the Higher Education Act.
“Civic engagement lies at the heart of our democratic process,” said Senator Coons. He emphasized the importance “to offer our future leaders robust opportunities to deepen both their knowledge of our institutions and their skills in participating in democratic discourse and advocacy.”
This bipartisan act would authorize grants and funds to support organizations and programs focused on the promotion of education in American history, political thought, citizenship, and democracy. Nonprofit organizations, universities, and government humanities programs will all have the opportunity to apply for funds that pursue this work, including relevant teacher professional development and other outreach activities.
“Learning about America’s rich history and what makes our political process unique is essential to preserving democracy,” said Senator Cornyn. “This legislation would promote civic education in schools and universities and support teachers as they inspire young Texans to be engaged citizens.”
Furthermore, the Center for Civic Education’s executive director, Charles N. Quigley, was featured in the senators’ press release, expressing his support for the act:
On the behalf of the Center for Civic Education, I would like to express support for the USA Civics Act and commend Senator Chris Coons and Senator John Cornyn for its introduction. This legislation will provide much needed support for the enhancement of civic education in higher education as well as meet the pressing need to prepare teachers at elementary and secondary levels to provide their students sound instruction in the history and contemporary relevance of American political thought and its impact of their everyday lives. We need to develop enlightened and responsible participation in our political system and the best way to do this is through effective civic education.
The USA Civics Act has also been endorsed by the American Council on Education. The full text of the legislation can be viewed here, and the senators’ press release can be found here.
Jun 11, 2019 / E-news
Teachers and schools play a large part in increasing students’ engagement as citizens, voters, and participants in government. Read the rest of this entry »
Jun 11, 2019 / E-news
Pauline Weaver, president of the Center for Civic Education Board of Directors, has been honored by Eden Housing with the opening of the new Pauline Weaver Senior Apartments in Fremont, California. The ninety-unit complex was developed for low-income seniors in the area. On May 17, government officials and development team members joined together to commemorate the completion of the project.
“It is a wonderful thank you for doing something that I love. It is an incredible honor—most people never get recognized until their memorial service, and they can’t hear it! I am truly humbled and grateful,” said Weaver.
Weaver has long been an advocate in her community for affordable housing in California, especially in the city of Fremont where she has been a longtime resident. She was a former member and chair of both the Fremont Planning Commission and the Fremont Sister City Commission, in addition to serving as co-president of the League of Women Voters of Fremont-Newark-Union City. Furthermore, she has served on the Eden Housing Board of Directors since 1988 and as an assistant public defender in Alameda County.
Weaver had the honor of cutting a red ribbon during a ceremony in front of the new apartments. The celebration was attended by Cheryl Cook-Kallio, who also serves on the Center’s Board of Directors and as the California We the People state coordinator, and board member and Moina Shaiq.
Pauline Weaver cuts the ribbon at Pauline Weaver Senior Apartments.