End of Session Recap: States Make Progress In Civic Education Policy

This spring, CivXNow State Policy Task Force members made their priorities a reality, signaling continued momentum for civic education. Since January, the CivXNow policy team tracked 131 bills in 38 states pertaining to civic education. 76 of these bills aligned with the CivXNow state policy menu. What follows is a summary of the significant policy successes this session:

  • The New Hampshire Civics coalition led advocacy efforts 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 bipartisan bill awaits Governor Chris Sununu’s signature.
  • Seven years after legislators in Minnesota introduced legislation requiring a civics course for credit to high school juniors and seniors, the provision was included in this year’s final omnibus education package. Governor Tim Walz signed the bill on May 24th. Rollout starts in the 2024-25 school year. The Minnesota Civic Education Coalition was also successful in securing $300K in funding for civic programming. 
  • In Indiana, $500k, was appropriated in the state education budget for civics programming. This is an increase of $200K over last year. This initiative was led by Indiana Bar Foundation, a CiviXNow affiliate. 
  • Maine state Rep. Morgan Rielly (D) led a bipartisan charge in the House to require the Secretary of State to study the efficacy, feasibility, and benefits of appointing a deputy secretary of state to coordinate civics engagement and education matters. The bill passed two days before the legislature’s adjournment. The CivXNow state policy team is consulting with Rep. Rielly and Deputy Secretary Joann Bautista and Secretary Shenna Bellows on this project.
  • In the coming school year, teachers from across the Commonwealth of Kentucky will pilot the new Kentucky Civic Seal. Sponsored by Kentucky’s Secretary of State, Michael Adams, the Seal will recognize students who demonstrate good citizenship by completing a student-designed civic engagement project, possessing knowledge of governance and democratic principles, practicing information literacy, and engaging in self-reflection.
  • Montana’s State Board of Education adopted a high school requirement this spring. 
  • In Connecticut, Rep. Smith sponsored a civics and media literacy task force bill, and Rep. Michel offered a similar bill. On June 8th, the legislature concurred unanimously on Rep. Michel’s version of the bill. 

Progress to Build On: 

  • In Alaska, the upper chamber adopted language for a required social studies course and civics assessment exam to graduate high school beginning in the fall of 2024. The Senate unanimously passed the requirements in Senate Bill 29. It is anticipated that the bill will be taken up in the House for consideration in January 2024.
  • And Maryland’s Senate passed legislation to adopt civic seals, but the legislature adjourned prior to consideration in the House. The Maryland Civic Education Coalition anticipates continued momentum behind this legislation next session. 
  • The newly minted Missouri Civic Learning Coalition worked with Rep. Jim Murphy on a bill to start a media literacy pilot program at the Department of Education. Rep. Murphy worked to pass similar legislation for the past four years. The proposal seemed promising as it was wrapped into a larger education package during conference committee negotiations. Unfortunately, the larger education bill did not pass during the session’s final week.

We are also in the midst of finalizing an update to our 50 State Policy Scan, expanding the number of variables measured. This scan serves as a valuable resource for the field and benchmark for states to measure themselves against. We anticipate publishing the revised scan later this summer with updates to our interactive map on the CivXNow website.

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