Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools lauds the introduction of the ‘Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Learning Act of 2011’ in the U.S. House of Representatives
WASHINGTON - Today, Representatives Tom Cole of Oklahoma and Mike Honda of California introduced the ‘Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Learning Act of 2011.’ The Bill, HR3464, would provide a competitive grant program to spur innovation in civic education in our schools with a special emphasis on serving currently underserved inner-city and rural school populations. Currently there is no Federal level funding for civic education. The Measure would also call on the National Assessment Governing Board to provide state level data from the NAEP tests in civics and history so that each state will know how well their students are mastering civics and government.
The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, a coalition of over seventy national civic learning, education, civic engagement and business groups, salutes Representatives Cole and Honda on the introduction of this very important bill.
“Civic Education was a principal reason for the establishment of a system of public education in our nation,” said Dr. Mabel McKinney-Browning, Chairman of the Campaign’s Steering Committee. “All recent reliable measures show a major problem in this vital area of every student’s education.”
In May of 2011, the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test in Civics revealed only 25% of students could demonstrate a ‘proficient’ mastery of civics and government, meaning that millions of young Americans will be unprepared to be the informed and engaged citizens a healthy democracy requires.
Scores were even lower for low-income and minority students, with black students scoring on average, 24 to 30 points lower than their white counterparts. This persistent civic achievement gap undermines the equality of all citizens.
“The Bill introduced by Congressman Cole and Congressman Honda will help reverse a decades long decline in effective civic learning in our nation’s schools,” said Campaign Executive Director Ted McConnell. “While education policy is the rightful province of state and local education policymaking bodies, the Federal government has a historic role to play in spurring innovation and equity in curricular subjects, the ‘Sandra Day O’Connor Act,’ will provide much needed innovation in this area so critical for our nation’s future.”
The Campaign notes that it is very appropriate for this legislation to be named for Justice O’Connor, who along with former Rep. Lee Hamilton serves as Co-Chair of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools. Justice O’Connor has said many times across the country, “The better educated our citizens are, the better equipped they will be to preserve the system of government we have. And we have to start with the education of our nation’s young people. Knowledge about our government is not handed down through the gene pool. Every generation has to learn it, and we have some work to do.”
Since her retirement as an active Justice in 2006, Justice O’Connor has devoted much of her time to crusading for improved civic learning in our schools. The Justice has developed an innovative on-line civic education program for students called iCivics (iCivics.org). The Justice has called on each state to strengthen civic learning requirements for all students.
“In this time of political polarization, it is interesting to note that with the introduction of the ‘Sandra Day O’Connor Act,’ we have a good Democratic Congressman joining with a good Republican Congressman to improve civic education for all Americans,” said Les Francis, Chair of the Campaign’s Policy Taskforce. “This is one issue on which both parties and all Americans can agree that we must provide the civic education so necessary for each generation to take their place as informed and engaged citizens of our great republic.”
“The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools is very grateful to Congressman Honda and Congressman Cole for their concern over the lack of effective civic learning,” said Dr. McKinney-Browning. “We urge all members of the House of Representatives to sign on and co-sponsor the Bill and we urge Congress to pass the ‘Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Learning Act’ as soon as possible.”
For more information on the Campaign please visit: www.civicmissionofschools.org
Or contact Campaign Executive Director Ted McConnell at firstname.lastname@example.org
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