A Deeper Dive on New Hampshire’s Policy Win

The New Hampshire Civic Learning Coalition, led by NH Civics, championed advocacy efforts in Spring 2023 for a bipartisan bill entitled “More Time on Civics,” requiring a semester of civics in middle school and instructional time for civics in grades K–5. The legislation passed with strong bipartisan support, and was signed by Governor Chris Sununu (R) in August 2023.

Governor Sununu also requested and secured $1M in appropriations for a new civics textbook in the Fiscal Year 2024 state budget. The four-term governor will not seek reelection next year, but will leave these new policy accomplishments as part of his legacy in the Granite State.

Under Senate Bill (SB) 216, which was sponsored by State Senator Sharon Carson (R), high school graduation requirements remain unchanged: a half-year of instruction in civics and a full year of instruction in history and government. However, under the new law, students also need to obtain a passing grade on a competency exam developed by their school and a grade of 70 percent or better on the 128-question U.S. citizenship exam.

Schools will be expected to meet the new curriculum requirements at the start of the 2024–2025 school year without new funding from the state. The new law also includes resources to create materials and professional development for educators. Moreover, NH Civics committed to providing free professional development programs and curriculum materials over the next year to support implementation.

During the 2023 legislative session, the CivXNow policy team tracked 131 bills in 38 states pertaining to civic education. Seventy-six of these bills aligned with the CivXNow state policy menu. Indeed, this win in New Hampshire and recent successes in other states, signals legislative appetite for additional reforms in red, blue, and purple states. Since 2021, twenty states adopted twenty-two policies aligning with CivXNow’s policy priorities. CivXNow’s top policy recommendation for states is to provide universal, equitable access to K–12 civic learning opportunities.

The NH Civic Learning Coalition was awarded CivXNow state policy grants in 2022 and 2023 and is a member of the CivXNow State Policy Task Force.

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