Teachers have weathered two-plus tumultuous years of pandemic and polarized political debates about civics and history content and pedagogy. Nevertheless, they persist, and affirming my claim from a year ago, remain the foremost guardians of our constitutional democracy. May 2-8 is Teacher Appreciation Week, and the CivXNow Coalition wholeheartedly salutes our teachers in the trenches.
I began my career as a civics teacher and learned early on that while what happened in my classroom was of course my top priority, I also had professional obligations to continuously improve my professional capacity and advocate far and wide for the civic mission of schools. Decades later, and fifteen months into my role leading policy and advocacy for the CivXNow Coalition, I have the privilege of partnering with classroom educators from coast to coast to spread the word among policymakers of the wisdom of strengthening state and federal K-12 civic education policies.
iCivics, the CivXNow Coalition’s parent organization, has a national Educator Network with 370+ members from 48 states, touching 229 U.S. congressional districts. Members have regularly partnered with the CivXNow Policy Team in meetings with congressional staff on the federal Civics Secures Democracy (CSD) Act.
Several members of iCivics’ Educator Network are also James Madison Fellows, and our team has engaged this network of more than 1,400 exemplary educators from every state in congressional meetings. The Madison Fellowship stands to benefit from a one-time, $20M investment in its endowment through CSD, allowing it to offer more life-changing graduate fellowships to teachers nationally. The Madison Fellowship would also administer the new Prince Hall Fellowship as part of CSD, which would provide financial incentives to teachers of color during their first five years as civics teachers in an effort to diversify the profession’s pipeline.
Madison Fellows and iCivics Educator Network members have made a compelling case for the broader investments of CSD in local school districts, a full 60% of all funding in the bill. This includes greater access to ongoing professional development centered on both civics content and pedagogy, high-quality, nonpartisan curriculum and materials, and strengthened and expanded student learning opportunities. More than anything, our educators believe deeply that a generational federal investment in the civic capacity of students, teachers, and schools, as represented by CSD, will ensure civics is prioritized alongside other core subjects and our schools will move closer to their original civic mission.
May is a month of action for the Coalition in its efforts to advance civic education. We pursue this collective work in honor of, and in partnership with, civic heroes from across the fruited plain, K-12 civics and social studies teachers. To all the teachers reading this , we sincerely appreciate you and all that you do each day to foster reflective patriotism among students, the inheritors and future caretakers of our constitutional democracy.
Yours in civics,
Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy, iCivics