CIVICS IN SCHOOLS

A NATIONWIDE CALL TO GIVE YOUNG PEOPLE THE TOOLS TO ENGAGE IN OUR DEMOCRACY

“The most impactful thing people can do is to get together and try to change the laws.”

— David Wood, PCI Media, Vice President Global Programs 

A DEMOCRACY CRISIS

Six years ago, in a PBS interview, Supreme Court Justice David Souter expressed his concern about the ignorance of the American people regarding governance. He warned that without a commitment to participatory democracy through civic education, the American People were open to a demagogue who would come and tell them that he could fix everything if only he were to have unlimited power. We must heed Souter’s prescient comments. Yes, we have a climate crisis, but we also have a democracy crisis. Since civics has not been taught comprehensively or equitably across schools, many young people don’t understand how they can make a difference. They are frustrated and disillusioned with the political system, which leads to disengagement, despair and hopelessness.

OUR MISSION

The mission of Young Voices for the Planet (YVFP) is to limit and reverse the magnitude and impacts of climate change by empowering youth, through uplifting and inspiring success stories, to take an essential role in informing themselves, their peers and their communities—becoming leaders and changing laws, changing minds and changing the world. Our award-winning documentary films feature diverse young role models on the frontlines of climate change, reducing the carbon footprint of their homes, schools and communities—while saving money and improving health. These films along with our Civic Engagement and Democracy Curriculum and professional development for educators, give young people hope and the tools to take action and make a difference—even though they’re still too young to vote! YVFP wants to make sure that all children believe in their ability to make a change in their own life, in the political system, and in the world at large. That’s why we support civic education in ALL schools.

A GROWING MOVEMENT

As described in the 2020 SXSW Education Panel, “Civics on the Legislative Slate,”  “Civic ed is on the brink of revival. Led by a growing movement for legislation that requires civics and makes it relevant to today’s youth, more than 80 bills pushing for better civics were brought before state legislatures this past year [2019]. Federal legislation may soon follow.”

A CIVICS COALITION

YVFP is proud to collaborate with CivXNow, a bipartisan coalition of more than 100 organizations calling for equitable and effective civics nationwide. The coalition provides policy recommendations and tools and tracks new civic education laws state-by-state. Explore CivXNow and other coalition members below to find out what initiatives are taking place in your state and take the pledge to ensure civics in every school. Share resources to engage young people in democracy, so that together we can create a more equitable world.

FEB. 7, 2020 INTERVIEW

Jimmy Buff interviews Jaysa Hunter-Mellers, the young star of YVFP film “Words Have Power”, YVFP founder & filmmaker Lynne Cherry, and community reporter Kale Kaposhilin, during the Ashokan Center’s 2020 Youth Empowerment & Sustainability Summit. Jaysa is a strong advocate for civics in schools.

“We need civic education. Not every high school is required to have civic education, which means not everybody knows their rights. If you have an issue in your community, go to your town meetings. Go straight to the source.” — Jaysa

 

JOIN THE MOVEMENT

CIVIC LEGISLATION & EDUCATION RESOURCES

CivXNow a Project of iCivics

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, the CivXNow Coalition pledges 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.

Take the Pledge! CivXNow

TAKE THE PLEDGE!

(I/We) pledge to help every school in the nation fulfill its historic and vital civic mission. (I/We) pledge to ensure that every young person acquires the civic knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary for informed and authentic civic engagement.

Generation Citizen Logo

MISSION

Generation Citizen (GC) works to ensure that every student in the United States receives an effective action civics education, which provides them with the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in our democracy as active citizens. GC’s inspires civic participation through a proven state standards-aligned action civics class that gives students the opportunity to experience real-world democracy.

VOTE16 - A Project of Generation Citizen

MISSION

VOTE16USA is a national campaign, organized by Generation Citizen, that supports efforts to extend voting rights to 16- and 17- year-olds on the local and state levels, help start new local campaigns and elevate the issue’s prominence on a national level.

CIVXNOW DOCUMENTARY

IMPROVING SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT THROUGH CIVIC LIFE

BENEFITS OF CIVICS

THE ILLINOIS DEMOCRACY SCHOOL

TOP 10 BENEFITS OF QUALITY CIVIC EDUCATION

  • Strengthens the basic understanding of our structures of government, along with related processes of legislation and policy making.
  • Enhances “21st century competencies” that are valued by colleges, universities and employers.
  • Closes the civic achievement gap across race, ethnicity, income and parental educational attainment.
  • Lowers high school dropout rates.
  • Creates a positive school climate that supports students feeling socially, emotionally and physically safe.
  • Builds news literacy skills necessary for gathering information to make reasoned decisions on critical issues affecting our country.
  • Increases volunteerism and work on community issues.
  • Enhances democratic accountability of elected officials.
  • Improves government transparency.
  • Increases voting and discussions of politics in the home.

HISTORICAL SPOTLIGHT

THE CIVIC LEADERSHIP OF JIM LEACH

INITIATOR OF THE AMERICAN “CIVILITY TOUR”

Jim Leach was the ninth Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). President Obama nominated the former Iowa Republican congressman, (who served in the U.S. House of Representatives 1977-2007),  to chair the NEH on June 3, 2009. Leach began his term as the NEH Chair on August 12, 2009 and stepped down in May 2013.

Between November 2009 and May 2011, Leach conducted the American “Civility Tour” to call attention to the need to restore reason and civility back into politics, a goal that in his words was “central to the humanities.” Leach visited each of the 50 states, speaking at venues ranging from university and museum lecture halls to hospitals for veterans, to support the return of non-emotive, civil exchange and rational consideration of other viewpoints. According to Leach,

“Little is more important…than establishing an ethos of thoughtfulness and decency of expression in the public square. Words reflect emotion as well as meaning. They clarify—or cloud—thought and energize action, sometimes bringing out the better angels in our nature, sometimes lesser instincts.”