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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 Paul Baumann 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.

February / March 2015

Guest Column

Student voice in reform
Marc Brasof argues in his forthcoming book that when students and educators lead schools together, outcomes tend to improve for students and their organizations. Powerful, sustainable and scalable examples already exist.

Good Reads

Civics makes a comeback
Some states now mandate civics classes; other stakeholders call for high school seniors to pass the test new citizens must take, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.  “We’re seeing more rumblings of states and local districts recognizing the needs for civic engagement, especially for youth,” said Paul Baumann, director of the National Center for Learning and Civic Engagement at the Education Commission of the States. Baumann also weighed in at Arizona station KJZZ.

What's happening to Americans' sense of duty?
An Associated Press-Gfk poll found Americans’ civic engagement has slipped since a similar survey was taken three decades ago.  Only voting and volunteering remain about as valued as they were; citizens feel less obligated to stay informed, especially the young, although volunteering gained ground with them.

Reforming the ESEA? Add civic education
Peter Levine and Scott Warren of The Hill argue strong civic education could go a long way to addressing two major American problems:  a dysfunctional political system and inequality. Inequality starts in our schools, and manifests itself in the political arena; inequality affects civic learning, but civic learning may be able to actually combat inequality.

Civic engagement at St. Petersburg College
South Florida’s St. Petersburg College is committed to civic engagement within academic scholarship, pursues a wide variety of projects and has compiled a list of best practices. Initiatives include citizenship lessons for community members preparing for the United States Civics Exam, work with the homeless, civic engagement with students in Pinellas County Schools and information on starting 501©3s.

What States Are Doing

Arizona becomes first state to require citizenship test
Arizona students must soon pass the same citizenship test required of naturalizing immigrants as part of high school graduation requirements. Other legislatures are poised to do the same thing -- North Dakota’s House and Senate passed a similar bill. The phenomenon is not without controversy as several news media are asking readers whether they agree.

Ohio legislature would require world history
The Ohio legislature finalized a bill that requires world history and civilizations for high school students who start in 2017. Sponsor State Senator Frank LaRose said students need to understand the 96 percent of the world that is not the United States in order to become part of the global economy.


Supreme Court Summer Institute
Two sessions of the Supreme Court Summer Institute for Teachers, June 18-23 and June 25-30, 2015 are open to high school social studies teachers and supervisors who will spend six days on Capitol Hill and inside the Supreme Court learning about the Court, its past and current cases, and how to teach about them from Supreme Court litigators and educators. For information and to apply online, go to under the "Registration" tab. Application deadline is March 16, 2015.


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

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