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To read more about Service-Learning, visit the ECS Issue Site on Service-Learning.

To read more about civic education, visit the ECS Issue Site on Citizenship/Character Education.

Do you have information you would like to share in future issues of Citizenship Matters? Send submissions to Brady Delander at

The ECS National Center for Learning and Civic Engagement (NCLCE) assists state and district policymakers and educators developing policies that support K-12 school-based service-learning opportunities. These educational experiences help students acquire the skills, values, knowledge and practice necessary to be effective citizens. The NCLCE identifies and analyzes policies and practices that support effective civic education, creates and disseminates publications for education stakeholders, and convenes meetings to develop a collective voice for citizenship education and civic mission of schools. NCLCE also encourages policy support and system structures to integrate service-learning into schools and communities. For more information, visit

Welcome to Citizenship Matters, from the National Center for Learning and Civic Engagement (NCLCE) at the Education Commission of the States (ECS). This bimonthly newsletter focuses on ECS' work in improving civic education in our nation's schools.

March / April 2014

Guest Colum

Bringing Patriotism Back into Style
John Hakes, and education and community advocate and writer based in Minnesota, examines the need to color "the civics curriculum red, white and blue." The concept of patriotism often is avoided in classroom settings for a variety of reasons. But Hakes writes that, as challenging as it may be, putting the red, white and blue back into our state's civics education could be a healthy thing for schools to do.

Good Reads

New from CIRCLE
CIRCLE released a short fact sheet that describes recent bills or proposals in Florida, Tennessee and Hawaii in detail, including the advantages and drawbacks identified by both proponents and detractors. It also released a longer paper that includes interviews with prominent stakeholders in each state and takes an initial look at the process behind each proposal and some of the issues faced by the educators tasked with implementing them.

Public Participation Leads to Better Communities
A packed auditorium for a recent lecture on civic engagement is encouraging and a testament to efforts in Florida to renew interest in civic participation for the greater good of our communities.

Where Is the Humanities' Neil DeGrasse Tyson?
Cosmos is a hit, again. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a pop science star. Thanks to him, kids dream about expanding human knowledge of the phenomenal universe. Now: Where's a liberal arts rock star to make people care about human culture that much?

Why Civics Education must Return
With our school systems under financial stress and national testing standards focusing on English, mathematics and science, civics is increasingly taking a back seat to other subjects in our public and private schools. Our nation faces a "civics recession." America's students are in dire need of the education required to become effective, engaged citizens. Think most American students know enough to pass a basic citizenship exam? Think again. The reality may shock you.

Around the Nation

Missouri Looks at its Civic Health
St. Louis is actually doing better than the rest of the state in many areas of civic health. That's the good news out of a recent report. The bad news is that while the state is average in many civic health indicators, it is near the bottom in important measures such as voting, public meeting attendance and regular family dinners.

Boston Posts Guide for Civic Engagement Tools
Boston's Office of New Urban Mechanics together with researchers with Emerson College's Engagement Game Lab recently released a "lessons learned" booklet for developing and deploying innovative tools for engaging citizens. After many years of collaboration, the partners wanted to document their projects and processes to help other cities build on what they had learned.

Californians Rally to Save FFA from Funding Cuts
More than 50 students from four California high schools and their teachers recently traveled to Sacramento to rally against proposed cuts to the Future Farmers of America program. The trip and rally, on California Ag Day at the state capitol, followed a letter-writing campaign. Students urged officials to keep funding available so they can pay for school and project supplies, conferences, and competition fees.

Events & News of Note

NYLC's Service-Learning Conference Kicks Off April 9
MONUMENTAL, the 25th Annual National Service-Learning Conference, is slated for April 9-12 in Washington D.C. Co-hosted by the National Youth Leadership Council and Youth Service America, the conference brings together more than 1,500 attendees from across the United States and many other countries. MONUMENTAL provides more than workshops and keynote addresses; it is an extension of the classroom, allowing for the youth and adult attendees to be part of something bigger. The conference's multiple day, concurrent session format offers a self-directed, facilitated learning environment with education sessions, discussion groups and interactive workshops.

National Service-Learning Clearinghouse Lands at NYLC
The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse has moved from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and is now housed at the National Center for Youth Leadership National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC). The clearinghouse offers thousands of free online resources for K-12, higher education, community-based organizations and tribal communities, and is the nation’s largest library of service-learning research, data, tools and materials. The site is fully integrated within the Generator School Network (GSN), a free online community of youth and adults engaged in service-learning. The GSN staff is available, and welcome feedback, questions, and new clearinghouse submissions at

Thank you for reading Citizenship Matters. For questions, comments or submissions, contact Brady Delander at 303.299.3622 or
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