Civics Education Makes Progress…Swiftly or Slowly….

middle school studentsWe urgently need a more informed public on civic matters. And we’re seeing some progress. Concerned about that need, State Superintendent of Education Torlakson and Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye formed the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning.   The task force created a steering committee, named the Power of Democracy. Civics instruction will be added to the required framework for social studies instruction at every grade level in 2013 (AB 137).

Seven regional meetings followed, and two more bills, (AB 1599, Committee on Education, 9/15/14) and SB 897, Steinberg 9/19/14), were signed which recommended a number of specific historical documents and objectives for the framework’s civics education component. The draft for the K-12 History-Social Science Curriculum Framework was approved September 19, 2014 and opened to field review, but adoption of the framework has been delayed until March 2016.

Meanwhile, the Power of Democracy has moved forward by side-stepping local control funding and Common Core structures. Instead, citing the urgent need for young people to be critical thinkers who participate in our democracy, California groups of civic leaders have formed to work with Districts to bring civics education into the schools now. Such an effort is reported to be starting in Alameda County.

Christine Wenrich for the Voter Services Team

Bill Chapman adds a note that suggest why the Chief Justice’s group might want to move ahead quickly.

Once all of the actions described below are complete, publishers will begin developing textbooks and other materials for potential adoption and use in CA classrooms based on the new standards. It will then be up to teachers and local schools to put them to use. How that all shakes out in terms of changes in civics instruction we will see then. In any event it will be years from now.

The final version of the bill  (I believe) as adopted and signed by Gov. Brown last September is here.

The current version of the draft framework is here.

The C3 framework suggested for inclusion in the History Standards (once they are written after the final adoption of the new framework) is here.

Bill Chapman reports further slowdown in implementation because of the extreme number of comments made on the state standards. See the article here.

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