Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In Case You Missed It!

Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Education Secretary Arne Duncan Write About O’Connor’s Innovative Online Program
that Addresses Civic Illiteracy

A recent article in The Daily Beast titled "How to Reboot Civics Education" by former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Education Secretary Arne Duncan explains why civics education is as critical as science, math, and other core classes.
Here is an excerpt:

"The education historian Lawrence Cremin once observed that educators often follow the principle of “when in doubt, leave it out.” But we believe it is a great mistake to push civics to the sideline in schools. From the dramatic uprisings for democracy in the Mideast to the tragic shootings in Tucson at a Congress on Your Corner event, Americans have been reminded once again that freedom matters—and that informed citizens are the lifeblood of democracy. Civics education is not only about knowing your rights but also knowing your responsibilities. We the People must continue to safeguard the principles of democracy to perfect the union.

Unfortunately, a staggering number of Americans today know dismayingly little about the basic history and traditions of our democracy. Earlier this spring, the government released the results of the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress assessment in civics. It shows that while fourth graders have modestly improved their civics knowledge and skills, 12th graders—the students now poised to become voters—have even less civics knowledge and skills than their peers did in 2006."

To address this need for more civics instruction, Justice O'Connor has founded a web-based education project called designed to teach students civics and inspire them to be active participants in our democracy. The site includes a series of informative articles on topics such as Citizenship and the Separation of Powers. Fun-to-play interactive games and activities are also included. In the game "Argument Wars," young people can try out their powers of persuasion by arguing a real Supreme Court case. And the "People's Pie" game enables young people to try balancing the budget of the federal government!
Parents, Guardians, and Grandparents:
Try Sharing iCivics with Your Kids at Home!
Sharing the site with your kids can be a perfect after-dinner or lazy Saturday afternoon family activity. Allow your kids to select a topic that interests them, then read the article together. Take a few minutes to discuss it; ask them questions. Relate the information to what is happening NOW. Then play the related game and see if YOU can balance the federal budget or plan a campaign to improve your community!

For additional civics resources, check out the Civic Education and Civic Education Websites pages on the NCBLA's education website