In order to foster civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions in our nation’s youth, we must facilitate a shift in public mindset, prioritizing the civic mission of schools. This shift is dependent on the public seeing civics as relevant, and policymakers prioritizing civics through state-level action and student and school accountability measures.
Taken together, these levers, coupled with the research informing them, constitute the organizing pillars of the CivXNow Coalition. Our ever-expanding diverse membership embodies a battle-tested ground game in our perpetual quest to support students’ civic development in partnership with teachers, schools, parents, and community partners. But our longstanding work on the ground must be complemented by a robust “air game,” through which we make the case for civics as a generational investment in the strength and sustainability of our constitutional democracy at a fragile time of foreign and domestic threats to freedom and liberty.
A strong ground game, paired with a sharpened air game, is well-positioned to make the case for and eventually implement a state and federal policy agenda that transcends partisan framing to include standalone civics courses in middle and high school and designated instructional time for civics in grades K–5; integrated instructional practices of constitutional democracy both inside and outside of the classroom; and student and school-based accountability and recognition systems.
The CivXNow Coalition State Policy Task Force has representation from 38 state coalition affiliates working to formalize organizing structures, identify policy priorities from our State Policy Menu, mobilize around positive bipartisan policy proposals, and support implementation of successful policy campaigns with fidelity. The sustainability of this collective work is dependent upon greater public investment, and the bipartisan, bicameral, federal Civics Secures Democracy (CSD) Act is a generational investment in the field, bringing $1 billion annually over the course of five years primarily to school districts, as well as education nonprofits and colleges and universities to strengthen students’ civic learning opportunities and the teaching pipeline.
CSD also supports the third pillar of CivXNow Coalition efforts—research—through scaling the National Assessments of Education Progress (NAEP) in Civics and U.S. History, increasing their frequency, and assessing a larger sample of students to allow for state-level disaggregation of data. Widely known as “the nation’s report card,” NAEP is an invaluable information source on the state of students’ civic knowledge and skills across various demographic groups, but also invites empirical analysis of what content and pedagogical approaches are most impactful. Coupled with research and evaluation requirements of the aforementioned grants in CSD and a designated $50 million annually dedicated to research on K–12 civics, will create a robust cycle of implementation and evaluation, further strengthening the field of civics education.
In the coming months, our team will engage affinity groups structured around these three pillar of CivXNow Coalition efforts: air game (awareness-building); advocacy; and research and best practices. These pillars are mutually reinforcing and essential to achieving our mission to ensure every K–12 student is afforded equitable access to universal, high-quality, innovative civic learning opportunities.