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Support bill to require civics classes.

Support bill to require civics classes

As a high school teacher who recently was a part of a team at my high school to become a Democracy School, I am writing in support of House Bill 2265, legislation to require a semester of civics in Illinois middle schools.

The need for expanded civic learning opportunities in the early grades is paramount. Students come to high school unprepared to use their civic voice, engage in service learning and participate in civic deliberation. Students need a foundation of civics that they are currently missing.

According to the 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress in Civics, only 23 percent of 8th graders demonstrate proficiency in civic knowledge and skills. Furthermore, the Council of Chief State School Officers finds that 44 percent of school districts have reduced time for social studies since 2001.

High-quality civic learning opportunities in Illinois middle schools can help reverse this trajectory. By requiring a semester of civics in middle school infused with proven civic learning practices, HB 2265 will lead to lifelong and effective engagement in our democracy.

With the 2015 high school civics requirement fully implemented, Illinois should strengthen civic learning in the middle grades. A 2018 survey shows strong civic outcomes among students because of course exposure to civics. Building on this success, the McCormick Foundation proposes a three-year, privately-funded $3 million plan ($1 million annually) to support middle school teachers, schools and districts to incorporate a civics course.

In order to make improvements in our society, we must improve our education. By investing in the civic development of our youth, we will empower them to resolve these issues, building a better Illinois and a healthier democracy. Please contact your lawmakers and urge them to vote "yes" on HB 2265.

Amanda Hamilton Schmidt

Palatine

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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Geographic Code:1U3IL
Date:Apr 27, 2019
Words:297
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