- Educating for American Democracy on Tuesday announced the launch of The Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy, a cross-ideological framework that aims to enhance K-12 civics and history education to reflect the country’s diverse student population.
- The project is the work of 300 scholars, educators and practitioners led by a team from iCivics, Harvard University, Tufts University and Arizona State University, and funded with $1.1 million from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Department of Education.
- The plan urges districts to develop civics learning plans that include goals marking progress toward civic excellence and says states should require districts to develop civic learning plans, adopt social studies standards and reflect EAD guidance. It also recommends the federal government build a national data infrastructure for teaching history and civics and revise the National Assessment of Educational Progress framework for civics and history.
Years of increasingly divisive political discourse culminated in a particularly contentious election season, capped by the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Reflecting on the role of education in bridging those divides and reuniting the nation, six former U.S. secretaries of education from the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama penned a joint op-ed for The Wall Street Journal celebrating the announcement of EAD's Roadmap project and warning of a dire need to enhance civics curriculum. They also urged education leaders to incorporate uncomfortable parts of the nation’s history into curricula like slavery, segregation, racism, indigenous removals and Japanese-American internments during World War II.
Lagging focus on civics education has troubled a number of key officials and public figures for several years. In 2019, for example, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts mentioned the lack of civics education in his year-end report and referred to the “classroom ready” materials available through the Supreme Court's website.
Last summer, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences also recommended investing in K-12 civics education. Its report, "Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century," recommends embedding civics education in curricula through projects, service learning, student government and debate training.
An Annenberg Public Policy Center study found only 26% of Americans can name all three branches of government, while public trust in government was only at 18%. Just 23% of 8th-graders performed at-or-above proficiency in civics on the National Assessment of Educational Progress that year.