Presidential and Congressional Academies Come to a Successful Conclusion

Aug 14, 2019 / National Academy for Civics and Government

From July 7-20, 2019 the Center concluded a very successful civics and history education training Academy at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, providing teachers and students from across the nation a very positive and academic enriching experience as well as memories that will last a lifetime.
This educational initiative is the first year of a grant the Center received from the U.S. Department of Education to conduct a series of institutes of Presidential Academies for teachers and Congressional Academies for high need-students.  Throughout the two weeks the participants were immersed in the study of constitutional history and principles of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution curriculum led by leading scholars and mentor teachers.  Presidential Academy teachers received high-quality professional development in core concepts of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights as well as interactive methodology.  The Congressional Academy students received an equally high-quality, interactive instruction in history and civics that paralleled the professional development for the teachers.
While each Academy was a distinct entity in different rooms on the Goucher College campus, opportunities were built into the agenda for the students and teachers to interact and share experiences about their learning.  For example, the history and civics instruction was linked to trips for both teachers and students to National Park Service sites such as Ft. McHenry and Gettysburg.  The Gettysburg trip correlated strongly with scholarly presentations on the history and significance of the Civil War Amendments. The participants also travelled to George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Washington, DC where they had time to visit the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian museums and meet with their members of Congress.  Each location was conducive to thoughtful lectures, discussions, and individual and collaborative work.
The Academy concluded with both teachers and students participating in a simulated hearing to showcase their knowledge.  Engagement among teachers and students will continue during the academic year. The Center will develop online discussion forums for teachers and for students to continue peer conversation as they engage in history and civics activities at their schools. Four webinars will be offered during the year that will extend the teachers’ professional development and benefit students and the general public.
The positive outcomes from the Academy can best be expressed in the words of the participants.
“I was always more of a math and science person, but now I have an equal passion for History.” -  Academy Student
“This Academy is a Grand-slam from the students’ perspective and the teachers’ perspective! The dynamic taking place between the teachers and between the students and all the combinations thereof has made for and continues to make for the most powerful, engaging and valuable Seminar that I have been to in my 30 year career.”
– Academy Teacher
For more information on the Academies please go to http://www.civiced.org/academies.

The Center for Civic Education has concluded a very successful civics and history education training academy, held July 720, 2019, at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, providing teachers and students from across the nation with an enriching experience as well as memories that will last a lifetime.

This educational initiative is the first year of a grant the Center received from the U.S. Department of Education to conduct a series of institutes of Presidential Academies for teachers and Congressional Academies for high need-students. Throughout the two weeks, the participants were immersed in the study of constitutional history and principles the of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution curriculum led by leading scholars and mentor teachers.  Presidential Academy teachers received high-quality professional development in core concepts of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights as well as interactive methodology. Congressional Academy students also received high-quality interactive instruction in history and civics that paralleled the professional development for teachers.

Opportunities were built into the agenda for the students and teachers to interact and share experiences about their learning. For example, the history and civics instruction was linked to trips for both teachers and students to National Park Service sites, such as Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine and Gettysburg. The Gettysburg trip correlated with scholarly presentations on the history and significance of the Civil War Amendments. The participants also traveled to George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Washington, D.C., where they had time to visit the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian museums and meet with their members of Congress. Each location was conducive to thoughtful lectures, discussions, and individual and collaborative work.



The Academies concluded with all teachers and students participating in a simulated congressional hearing to showcase their knowledge. Engagement among teachers and students will be ongoing as they participate in online discussion forums during the school year. The Center developed these forums to allow for continued peer conversation as participants engage in history and civics activities at their respective schools. Four webinars will be offered during the year that will extend the teachers’ professional development and benefit students and the general public.

The positive outcomes from the Academies can best be expressed in the words of the participants:

Students from all over the country participated in collaborative civic learning while at the Congressional Academy.

Students from all over the country participated in collaborative civic learning while at the Congressional Academy.

“I was always more of a math and science person, but now I have an equal passion for history.”—Congressional Academy student

“This academy is a grand slam from the students’ perspective and the teachers’ perspective! The dynamic taking place between the teachers and between the students and all the combinations thereof has made for and continues to make for the most powerful, engaging and valuable seminar that I have been to in my thirty-year career.”—Presidential Academy participant

For more information on the Academies please go to http://www.civiced.org/academies.

Presidential and Congressional Academies Are Being Held in Baltimore July 7-20

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 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.

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.

Teacher Frank Grealish said, “this Academy, to date, is a Grand-slam! From the students’ perspective and the teachers. … The dynamic taking place between the teachers/students and all the combinations thereof has made for and continues to make for the most powerful, engaging and valuable Seminar that I have been to; in (now) 30 years.”

Students are joining teachers on trips to historic sites that include Gettysburg, Fort McHenry, the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, and Mount Vernon. Students 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.

Grealish added, “I can say without hesitation … this Academy has been and continues to be life changing for my students.”

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.

Sandra Stotsky Releases New Book, The Roots of Low Achievement

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.

Project Citizen Research Program to Reach Hundreds of Teachers and Thousands of Students

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 the civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions, just as the James Madison Legacy Project did.
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 code in their schools.
Learn more about Project Citizen and how to support the program here.

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.

SB193 Funds Civic Education in Nevada

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.
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.
“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.

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.

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.

Nevada Center for Civic Engagement Receives Substantial Grant from Gannett

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 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, 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.
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.

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.

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.

We the People Ebooks on Actively Learn Have Become Even More Adaptable!

Jul 11, 2019 / E-news, We the People

The reliable civic education lessons and curriculum of the We the People program now appear as ebooks 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 ebooks 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 ebooks 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, ebook 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 gradebook, 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.

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.

60-Second Civics Podcast Celebrates Ten Years of Civic Education Lessons

Jul 10, 2019 / 60-Second Civics, E-news

Happy tenth anniversary to the Center for Civic Education’s very own 60-Second Civics podcast! With a total of 3,650 episodes, a culmination of 219,000 minutes (minimum!), host Mark Gage 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 podcast 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, Foundations of Democracy, and Elements of Democracy.
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 mini series of episodes, so that ideas are fully comprehensible to listeners even with the brevity of each episode.
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.
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!

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!

Senators Sponsor USA Civics Act to Promote Civic Education

Jul 10, 2019 / E-news

The newly proposed USA Civics Act by United States Senators Chris Coons (D-Delaware) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) has introduced 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 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.

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.

Summer Online Course: Educating for Informed & Equitable Voting

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 »