Promoting civics education in the classroom: how bill would impact students and teachers

Civics Secures Democracy Act
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 6:18 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Senator Bill Cassidy is among lawmakers who have introduced a bill dedicated to expanding civics education. A $1 billion investment would go toward educational programs and materials for K-12 and higher education.

“Any kind of help with civic education is going to be a plus for our students in our district. Resources that are available for teachers are going to be a big asset,” said high school social studies consultant Jeff Broussard.

Broussard said anything to help promote civics education is a plus.

The Civics Secures Democracy act would expand history and civics programs, and allot funding to state education agencies, nonprofits and institutions of higher education and research.

“Diversity of civic education being federal, state, local, even down to your city municipality. What’s available and pushing an understanding of the role of civics education in your life,” Broussard said.

Broussard said continuing to be given the resources to teach students the importance of fulfilling their civic duty would have an impact on Calcasieu Parish students.

“Just the idea of promoting civic education and being an active participant in your local community and benefiting the community at large,” he said.

This bill is ultimately aimed at closing key gaps in student’s history and civics education.

“We care about not only federal, state but local civics education and having more attention for that is going to be just the most important thing,” Broussard said.

In a statement, Senator Cassidy says: “America’s history unites us as Americans. Civics education tells that story. As we seek to overcome our divides, telling this story is essential.”

After being read in the senate, the bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Here’s a breakdown of where the $1 billion investment would go, and how the bill would aim to support educational programs in civics and history:

  • Creating a Civics Secures Democracy Fund supported in the first instance using COVID relief funds for programs that have since expired, providing $1 billion annually for civics and history initiatives. These initiatives are broken out as:
    • $585 million for state education agencies, which would be awarded by formula and passed on to districts to support civics and history education programs, especially with a lens to closing civics achievement gaps;
    • $200 million for nonprofit organizations, which would be awarded competitively and used to develop and provide access to evidence-based civics and history curricula and programs;
    • $150 million for institutions of higher education, which would be awarded competitively, used to support civics and history educator preparation and ongoing development;
    • $50 million for researchers, which would be awarded competitively and used to assess and evaluate civics and history education programs and identify best instructional practices; and
    • $15 million for a new Prince Hall Civics Fellowship program, which would diversify the civics and history education workforce by recognizing outstanding educators from underrepresented communities and providing a supplemental stipend in exchange for a five year teaching commitment.
  • Incorporating the USA Civics Act and CIVICS Act, both bipartisan, updating existing K–12 and higher education civics grant programs.
  • Encouraging the biennial administration of the civics and history NAEP in grades four, eight, and 12.
  • Strengthening and making the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation and James Madison Fellowship Program sustainable by recapitalizing their respective trusts and providing them broader investment authorities.

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