September 2021
Inaugural CivXNow Policy Summit Illuminates a Unified Path for Stronger K–12 Civics
The CivXNow Coalition, with generous support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, held its first Policy Summit last week, September 21–22. The Summit was designed to highlight important progress to date on state and federal policies to strengthen K–12 civic education and build momentum for continued breakthroughs in 2022 and beyond.
An opening panel composed of Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Judith Batty and current and former Governors Tony Evers (D-WI), Bob McDonnell (R-VA), and Tom Kean (R-NJ) set the stage for a vibrant two-day discussion of how civics can bring us together during this time of toxic polarization and government dysfunction.
"We are a very divided country right now. Partisanship is as bad as I have seen it. People aren’t talking now. If we understood civics and this country, we wouldn’t be here,” said Kean, adding that the answer to this country’s problems is to, “Study history. Study history. Study history. It’s much more difficult to be a citizen if you have not studied civics.”
Later in the first day’s programming, Robert Gates, who served as U.S. Secretary of Defense under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, called civic education a matter of national security:
“When you have the kind of polarization and paralysis we have today because of the lack of engagement of the broad citizenry, it has real national security implications. It creates the opportunity for disinformation… It has an impact internationally. There’s a direct thread, it seems to me, between the lack of engagement of a broad cross-section of Americans in the day-to-day life of the Republic in terms of public engagement and our polarization, paralysis, and the consequences of that in terms of our national security.”
The second day of the Summit kicked off with separate panels of state legislators and chief state school officers from across the political spectrum. This was followed by a plenary session moderated by philanthropist David Rubenstein, featuring Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Lonnie Bunch, III, and filmmaker Ken Burns. Burns contended that civics and U.S. history must be about more than recounting facts and dates. He recalled a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail:
“In a real sense, all life is interrelated. All [people] are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.... This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
“I can’t think of anything that rationalizes, in the best sense of that word, the need for history, the need for civics... and the need for these kinds of conversations,” said Burns. “We are all in this together, and there is no escaping the fact that we are all ‘tied in a single garment of destiny.’”
And so we move forward in our collective effort through state and national coalition-building, policy advocacy at every level of our federal system, and equitably resourced implementation of strengthened K–12 civic education policies. We are thankful to the hundreds who participated in the Summit live, and we encourage everyone to watch the sessions through recordings on our website and join efforts to prioritize civic education, increase civic engagement, and strengthen our constitutional democracy.
Yours in civics,
Shawn Healy
Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy, iCivics
Inside this newsletter:
  Revised State Policy Menu Released
  CSD Act Reintroduction Pending
  New Coalition Members
CivXNow State Policy Menu  
Revised State Policy Menu Released
The CivXNow Coalition released its revised State Policy Menu in conjunction with the Policy Summit. First issued in 2019, the State Policy Menu was updated to better align with the Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy (EAD Roadmap) and embed equity throughout its recommendations.
Among its key provisions are:
  Universal, equitable access to high-quality civic learning experiences through required civics courses in middle and high school, designated instructional time for civics and social studies in grades K–5, and media literacy opportunities threaded throughout core academic subjects
  Civics centered in state standards through alignment with the EAD Roadmap
  State assessment and accountability measures inclusive of civics, including K–12 civic learning plans for school districts and civics diploma seals for students
  Ongoing pre- and in-service professional development opportunities for educators to learn civics content and pedagogies, and a fellowship program to incentivize people of color to join the ranks of civics teachers
  Schoolwide and community commitments to civic learning through student representation on local boards and commissions, school disciplinary policies reflective of the principles of constitutional democracy, and school and/or district recognition programs for excellence in civic learning
  Resourcing policy implementation to ensure equity
States are encouraged to measure their current civics policies alongside the Menu and prioritize reforms aligned with its principles.
Civics Secures Democracy Act Reintroduction Pending
The Civics Secures Democracy (CSD) Act was filed in March with bicameral, bipartisan co-sponsorship. In response to concerns about how the annual $1 billion federal investment in K–12 civics will be financed and delineated, the bill sponsors are making minor adjustments to the bill text. We anticipate being able to share the revised bill text shortly, and ask that your outreach to members of your respective congressional delegations continue as we build upon the solid base of Republican and Democratic co-sponsors.
In partnership with the Maryland Civic Learning Coalition, U.S. Representative, CSD co-sponsor, and constitutional scholar Jamie Raskin (D-MD) hosted a briefing for his entire state delegation on Constitution Day (September 17). Rep. Raskin called CSD “an investment in our civic and democratic infrastructure,” and expressed optimism about its passage in the 117th Congress. We encourage you to follow the “Old Line State” and work with congressional offices supportive of CSD to schedule similar briefings with other state delegations.
Also on Constitution Day, Reps. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) and Peter Meijer (R-MI) introduced the bipartisan Teaching Engaged Citizenship Act, which implements several of the recommendations of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, and is complementary to CSD. The Teaching Engaged Citizenship Act will:
  Create a Civic Education and Service Learning Grant Program to support civic education and service-learning programming and related teacher professional development
  Establish an Office of Civic Education within the U.S. Department of Education to promote civic education throughout the United States
  Create an annual Excellence in Civics Award to “highlight excellence in the development and teaching of civic education and service learning”
  Require regular administration of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) in civics and U.S history in grades 4, 8, and 12, and disaggregation of results by state
With two promising vehicles to advance K–12 civic education in the current Congress, our community has a generational opportunity to strengthen democracy through a transformational federal investment in states, districts, colleges and universities, and educational nonprofits. Stay tuned for further updates on CSD and the Teaching Engaged Citizenship Act, and be sure to use our CSD Advocacy Toolkit to contact your Senators and Representative to ask them to co-sponsor the Civics Secures Democracy Act.
Meet the Newest CivXNow Coalition Members
The CivXNow Coalition is growing fast. We now stand at 173 member organizations strong, with the latest addition being the United States Capitol Historical Society.
We remain deeply appreciative of your efforts and of all we have accomplished together. Our goal is to aggregate and activate large networks of support to expand and re-imagine civic education as a force for civic strength. To our Coalition members, thank you for your partnership.
If you are part of an organization interested in joining the Coalition or learning more, please contact Patricia Leslie-Brown.
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.
Follow us and use #CivXNow to join the movement!
facebook   twitter
1‌035 Cambridge Street, Suite 21B | Cambridge, MA 02141
6‌17-3‌56-8‌311 |