As Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7–13) approaches, we salute civic educators from coast to coast for their daily diligence in developing students’ civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions. A prominent way to demonstrate our appreciation through state and federal policy is to highlight the importance of investing in educators’ professional development.
The CivXNow Coalition’s theory of change is premised on stronger state and federal K–12 civic education requirements and funding, which necessitate and enable civics teachers access to high-quality, ongoing professional development (PD) opportunities, ultimately translating into improved classroom instruction and students’ civic development.
Specifically, the CivXNow State Policy Menu recommends ongoing, comprehensive, and evidence-based teacher PD opportunities that strengthen civic content knowledge and pedagogical skills, provide exposure to a wide range of vetted curriculum and resources for classroom implementation, and create opportunities for infusing civic learning opportunities across academic content areas.
Unfortunately, teachers rarely rate their existing PD opportunities as “useful” and have little autonomy in selecting them. Given the dearth of state and federal funding for civics-centered teacher PD, current opportunities are often under-resourced and prohibitive for teachers to access in terms of time and money.
Thankfully, there are efforts across states to strengthen investments in civic-centered teacher PD (check out our state bill tracker, where we are monitoring nearly 120 bills in 39 states impacting K–12 civic education), and Congress is currently considering the Administration’s recommendation to more than triple the federal investment in civic education for Fiscal Year 2024. This proposed $73M would underwrite American History and Civics Academies and Civics National Activities.
American History and Civics Academies, in part, support workshops to strengthen teachers’ civic knowledge, and Civics Activities provide competitive grants to institutions of higher learning and education nonprofits that use evidence-based practices “to improv[e] teaching and learning about the history and principles of the Constitution of the United States” with particular emphasis on low-income and underserved students.
There’s no better way to honor civics teachers than to use the CivXNow “Take Action” tools to contact your Members of Congress and urge them to support this increased funding for K–12 civics. The congressional appropriations process is heating up, so your outreach will be most impactful in the next two weeks. Go to the “Take Action” page on our site, select an issue, and click on the “Take Action” button. Then, simply type in your home address, enter your full name and contact information, and send an automated email to your Senators and Representative.
Let’s show our appreciation for civics teachers by doing civics for civics by May 13. Ensure that all educators have access to high-quality, ongoing, civics-centered PD opportunities!
Yours in civics,
Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy, iCivics