As schools prepare the next generation of citizens, the Metropolitan King County Council today expressed its support for civics—the study of the rights and duties of citizenship and the relationships among citizens and with their government—to become as vital as the “Three Rs.” The Council gave its unanimous support to a motion supporting the “Civics for All Initiative,” which was developed by a Seattle schoolteacher Web Hutchins and his students.
“In raising our next generation of leaders, the “Civics for All Initiative” supports civics education that is essential to teaching them to be active, critical thinkers as the foundation for our future democracy,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips, the prime sponsor of the motion. “By implementing a robust civics curriculum, fully integrated with other core school subjects, we can educate our youth about the duties and joys of active citizenship and participation in our government.”
The “Civics for All” program proposes a set of tenets to help students in Seattle Schools learn about civic life and to suggest ways that civics could be integrated across the curriculum. The tenets include:
- Voting and elections, with mock elections in each school each year;
- Civics classroom-based assessments, with at least three civics assessments each year for each grade level;
- Media literacy education to help students learn about electoral politics and current events.
Currently students in Washington study civics through the social studies curriculum and high school students need to have 2.5 credits of social studies as a requirement for graduation. “Civics for All” would encourage educators to incorporate some of the principles of civics throughout the school curriculum by increasing civics and media literacy instruction in each grade of the social studies curriculum.
“Ben Franklin said that ‘Democracy must be learned by each generation.’ It is my hope that the “Civics for All” Initiative will become a catalyst and role model for the spread of this vital knowledge among all young people,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague.
“Giving students a sound foundation on civics and how government works is a key part of the educational process,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “As an elected leader I am pleased to support this common sense motion.”
The program would encourage students to use the lesson learned through a district-wide student mock election each November. King County Elections Director Sherril Huff has already voiced her support for the “Civics for All” initiative and said the department is willing to work with the Initiative and other partners to sponsor mock elections in schools.
Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata has joined the County Council in voicing his support for the tenets of “Civics for All.” The City Council is scheduled to act on a proposed resolution similar to the County Council’s motion later this month.
“By introducing more civics education into our classrooms, we empower new generations to become more active, critical thinkers in our democracy,” said Licata, the sponsor of the City Council’s resolution. “I particularly look forward to seeing the initiative’s goal of increasing civic engagement among Seattle youth realized through mock elections held in schools.”
The goal of the adopted motion is to express the County Council’s support and commitment to civics education, voting, and an educated citizenry. It also commends King County’s Department of Elections for its commitment to partner with the Initiative and other election partners.
“The opportunity for students to express their views through voting is empowering, a very real connection to democracy and the promise of freedom of expression that democracy assures,” said Elections Director Sherril Huff.
More information about “Civics for All” can be found at www.civicsforall.org
Read more about this legislation on the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH system at http://mkcclegisearch.kingcounty.gov and type in “2014-0068”
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