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to the national center for learning and citizenship

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.

December / January 2014-15

Guest Column

Learning the power of working with and for others
Using four real cases as anchors, Shira Epstein writes about how teachers can help youth to identify and analyze social problems around them and take action. The four cases involve a social justice writing assignment, a safe sex health project, a race-awareness after-school program and an effort to prevent cutting a local urban park’s budget. 

New from NCLCE

State Civic Education Policy Framework
This framework is intended to guide state policymakers as they address the complexities of preparing students for college, career and civic life. It allows for adaptation to state- and site-specific circumstances and may be adopted in whole or in piecemeal fashion, according to states' individual  circumstances. 

Good Reads

Comprehensive approaches to civic learning
Released at the National Council for the Social Studies conference last week, "Practicing What We Teach" Advocacy for Civic Learning Policy Enactment and Implementation:  A Guide for Building Statewide Coalitions,"  is based on the expertise of civic learning leaders in Illinois, Florida, Tennessee and California and offers suggestions for organizing coalitions to implement and sustain civic learning.

The political classroom
Also released at the National Council for the Social Studies conference last week, "The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education" by Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy, argues that teachers will make better judgments about political issues if they aim toward "political classrooms" which engage students in deliberations about questions that ask, "How Should We Live Together?"

Civics research database too small
Asserting that civic education receives little meaningful attention within the education policy community, the author considers what a comprehensive study of civic education among U.S. high school students would look like. He writes that research methods should include large, representative samples of adolescents on the state and national levels, with repeated interviews of the same subjects over time.

Improved civic outcomes related to student-led activities
Paul Baumann, director of the National Center for Learning and Civic Engagement at the Education Commission of the States, weighed in on how some civics classes never get out of the classroom in this article from the Alliance for Student Activities on engaging youth.  Stronger results occur when students go beyond the classroom and participate, Baumann said.

Service learning takes district from low to high achieving
At Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, three square miles from St. Louis' inner city, students keep bees, chickens, tilapia, grow vegetables and nurture hydroponic pineapples.  Boasting only three schools, one each for elementary, middle and high school students, food production is used at every grade level to study science, math, reading and hunger. 

What States Are Doing

Yogurt state snack
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill making yogurt the official state snack. The event really began at Byron-Bergen Elementary School in Genesee County where a group of fourth-graders came up with the idea as a way to learn how government works.

Revamping civic education
The Illinois Task Force on Civic Education is introducing its report on new civic course requirements, seeking input from students, parents, educators and taxpayers at a In a series of public hearings. They were charged by the Illinois State Board of Education with analyzing the state of civic education as it was, defining best practices and making recommendations to the legislature.

D.C. perks
H.D. Cooke Elementary School in the District of Columbia made news as part of a 40-year-old district-wide Embassy Adoption program that pairs schools with embassies to broaden global awareness in sometimes isolated urban students. More than 100 embassies have participated; at H.D. Cooke the program included dance, kick boxing and Thai food for lunch. 

Names in the News

Civics education pioneer Judith Torney-Purta to retire
Judith Torney-Purta, who broke ground in assessments of the effects of civics and social studies education, is retiring from the University of Maryland's College of Education. Torney-Purta began her work as a doctoral student at the University of Chicago where she and Robert Hess wrote "The Development of Political Beliefs in Children," a landmark which included interviews of children along with survey data. 

Supreme Court summer institute
Street Law, Inc. and the Supreme Court Historical Society will sponsor two sessions of the annual Supreme Court Summer Institute, June 18-23 and June 25-June 30, 2015. The Institute is open to secondary level 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. To apply online, go to Application deadline is March 15, 2015. 


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

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