June 2021
Civics in the Spotlight Throughout Spring State
Legislative Sessions
This spring, the CivXNow policy team tracked nearly 90 bills in 34 state legislatures pertaining to civic education. The bulk of these bills were designed to strengthen K–12 civic education, and many made it across the finish line with bipartisan support as legislatures adjourned for the summer.
Among the highlights were Oregon entering the ranks of 40 other states in requiring at least a semester of civics for high school graduation (Rhode Island also has active legislation on this front), and new middle school civics course requirements in Indiana and New Jersey.
Indiana joined Colorado and Nevada in strengthening state civics standards or requirements. Indiana and Colorado’s proposals are now signed into law. Nevada’s is pending in the House after passing the Senate and would create a state civic seal program for students, emulating similar distinctions in at least six other states.
Utah adopted a experiential civics pilot program for the coming school year, and Florida passed a “civics practicum” option for high school students pending Governor DeSantis’ signature. Finally, the Indiana law creates a permanent state commission of civic education, and our Georgia partners are seeking to do the same with their state department of education.
Despite this remarkable bipartisan progress, it’s important to acknowledge the late-developing, but fast-moving efforts in at least 27 states to limit teaching of so-called “divisive concepts” like racism or sexism, or prohibit use of specific curriculum like the New York Times’ “1619 Project” through legislation, executive actions, or both. Several of the former are already signed into law.
In some cases, the new mandates conflict with existing standards, making compliance confusing for teachers, schools, and districts. Moreover, discussions of current and controversial issues have been proven to foster students’ civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions.
Our community will take up these issues formally, and we welcome your comments in the meantime.
Yours in civics,
Shawn Healy
Senior Director of State Policy and Advocacy, iCivics
Inside this newsletter:
  CivXNow Policy Summit
  Call for Feedback on State Policy Menu Revisions
  Successful Month of Advocacy for CSD
Save-the-Date for the Inaugural CivXNow Policy Summit,
September 21-22
The current social and political context have reinvigorated the urgency of the Coalition’s policy goals. This virtual summit will provide both learning opportunities and inspiration to spur policy action.
The Policy Summit will be a gathering of about 500 state legislators, state education leaders, philanthropic leaders, press, and other influencer groups including parents, teachers, and administrators. The program will feature diverse perspectives on civic education policymaking including:
  A bi-partisan panel of state legislators from Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, and Massachusetts
  A panel of state education leaders moderated by former state chief Gerard Robinson and Former Governor Thomas H. Kean (R-NJ), as well as the co-sponsor of the bipartisan Civics Secures Democracy Act, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).
With support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, we will share models for K–12 civic education and spotlight the need to accelerate progress during the 2021–22 legislative sessions. Keep an eye out for a formal email invitation to register next month!
Call for Feedback on State Policy Menu Revisions
In 2019, the CivXNow Coalition published its State Policy Menu, a document detailing policy alternatives for states to draw upon as they seek to strengthen K–12 civic education. Given the progress detailed above and the publication of the Educating for American Democracy Roadmap in March, we made revisions to the Policy Menu in partnership with several members of our State Policy Task Force. These revisions are ready for your final review and comments prior to publication later this summer. Please share your feedback on the draft revised State Policy Menu no later than Friday, July 16.
May Month of Advocacy Builds Major Momentum for Civics Secures Democracy Act
May was our first month of advocacy for the federal Civics Secures Democracy Act and garnered thousands of contacts to members of Congress. This entailed intensive grasstops and grassroots outreach to Members of Congress as we seek to build upon bipartisan co-sponsorship in both chambers.
CivXNow hosted five well-attended congressional meeting prep sessions and scheduled dozens of meetings with Senators, Representatives, and their constituents, many of them civics teachers, and in some cases, students. Congressional offices were universally supportive of civics and most promised to consider co-sponsorship. Eighteen additional co-sponsors were added in the House, including Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). Several additional co-sponsors are in the queue in both the House and Senate.
We also received favorable media coverage of our efforts, including this Washington Post piece, and continue to place supportive op-eds like this one from former Federal Appellate Judge Thomas Griffith reflective of views across the political spectrum.
Your Tweets and Facebook posts, incorporating messages and images from the CSD Advocacy Toolkit, continue to help raise awareness of the bill and its promise of a transformational investment in high-quality K–12 civic education.
Collectively, this advocacy is making a tremendous impact and we’re grateful for your emails, calls, congressional meetings, and social media sharing. Please keep them coming and stay tuned for more information on our CSD summer strategy.
Our Mission
Recognizing that preparing our youth to assume the responsibilities and understand their rights as active participants in the civic life of this great nation is essential to the health of our Republic, we pledge to help every school in the nation fulfill its historic and vital civic mission. We pledge to ensure that every young person acquires the civic knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary for informed and authentic civic engagement.
A Team Effort
The CivXNow team produces this newsletter each month.
We are grateful for the energy, time, and guidance of the CivXNow Advisory Council and to many, many others who support individual projects.
The important work of CivXNow is generously funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York,
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and The Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
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