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Enhancing Civic Education: A state-of-the-art library

We just spent the last couple of days with the Council of State Governments (CSG) in Lexington, KY, for a packed two days of discussions about civic education in the states.

CSG, where we are senior fellows, has a strong commitment to enhancing civic education. This week, it brought together a small highly informed group to discuss strategies for work in this area and ways that the organization can provide help to the states. A characteristic CSG gathering, the group was made up of legislators, members of the judiciary, executive branch leaders, as well as civic education experts.  States represented included Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky,  Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

We moderated and facilitated a couple of sessions. Here are our three big takeaways from the two days:

Individual course requirements for civic education and assessment are important, but we also need to find ways to spread civic education through the school experience, starting in kindergarten and continuing through college (and after)

Creating a more informed citizenry is not the province of any one group, but needs to be bolstered by decision-makers, managers, teachers, parents, legislators, judges, corporations, schools, colleges, etc., working together in multiple partnerships.

There are a tremendous number of resources available to help grow civic knowledge, but we need more ways to communicate the amazingly innovative, informative, entertaining and action-oriented efforts underway through the country.

Many of the sessions were led by Paul Baumann, director of the National Center for Learning and Civic Engagement at the Education Commission of the States. He and his colleague, project leader Jan Brennan, gave the group a terrific list of reading material that we wanted to share here.

Here are the major reports they suggested:

Guardian of Democracy: The civic mission of Schools, Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, 2011

A Crucible Moment: College Learning & Democracy’s Future, The National Task Force on Democratic Learning and Civic Engagement, American Association of Colleges and Universities, 2012

State Civic Education Policy Framework, Paul Baumann, Maria Millard & Leslie Hamdorf, Education Commission of the States, National Center for Learning & Civic Engagement, 2014

State Civic Education Policy: Gap analysis tool for education leaders and policymakers (companion to framework document), Jan Brennan, Education Commission of the States, National Center for Learning & Civic Engagement, 2016

Civic Education: A Key to Trust in Government, Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, The Council of State Governments, 2016

Guidebook: Six Proven Practices for Effective Civic Learning, Lisa Guilfoile, Brady Delander & Carol Kreck, Education Commission of the States, National Center for Learning &  Civic Engagement, 2016

A Crisis in Civic Education, American Council of Trustees and Alumni, 2016

All Together Now: Collaboration and Innovation for Youth Engagement, Commission on Youth Voting and Civic Knowledge, Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, 2013


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