The Massachusetts House of Representatives has passed a comprehensive bill to promote and expand civic education in the Commonwealth.
State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen)’s legislation, House Bill 2022, An Act relative to civic education in public schools, was adopted into Senate Bill 2375, An Act to promote and enhance civic engagement, a comprehensive bill which directs the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to ensure that all public schools provide instruction in American history, civics and media literacy, including participation in a civics project that will be a requirement for graduating high school.
“During my time in office, I have visited schools across the Merrimack Valley to discuss the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and, through interactive mock committee and jury hearings, educate students about how to participate in our democratic process and what it means to be a citizen,” said DiZoglio. “Our classrooms, unfortunately, have all too often lacked a robust civic learning curriculum to teach students about what government does in our daily lives so I am thrilled to make some progress in educating and empowering our youth to get involved in the process.”
In Spring 2015, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education convened a working group to publish a report on civic learning in the Commonwealth. The group surveyed Massachusetts superintendents about the status of civic learning in the districts and, of the 80 superintendents who responded, 59 percent rated the level of civil learning in their districts as “insufficient.” Only 1 percent stated their school district had an “extensive” civics program. 65 percent of the superintendents stated their districts offered only “a few or limited” or “occasional” opportunities for civics learning.
“It is long overdue that all of our students be educated on how to register to vote, the history of voting as a constitutional right and the makeup and role of the branches of local, state, and federal government, among other topics,” said DiZoglio. “It is essential that youth begin to genuinely grasp these basic concepts to ensure that they are able to actively participate and engage in the process as they are entering into adulthood.”