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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.

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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.

May / June 2015

Guest Column

Civic ignorance begets civic unrest
Les Francis, communications specialist and political strategist, makes sense of three disparate events: civil arrest in Baltimore, some Texans’ fear that the Obama administration would take over the state and 2014 NAEP test results in civics, geography and history.

New from ECS

The Civics Education Initiative of 2015
Ensuring all students are taught basic civics and learn to be ready for active, engaged citizenship is a goal that both sides of the aisle can agree upon. The means to that goal is hotly debated. A new report from Education Commission of the States takes a look at what is happening in the states.

What States Are Doing

Common Core liberates history and social studies
History and social studies teachers in California find the Common Core State Standards – stressing the importance of research and analytical skills – elevate the importance of historical documents in reading comprehension. Some say the state accountability system and No Child Left Behind law squeezed history and social studies out of elementary school and students arrived in middle school lacking civics knowledge.

Virginia marked the 150th anniversary of Appomattox by honoring the 4,600 people in Appomattox who were emancipated after the battle and surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Asked to deliver a eulogy for Hannah Reynolds, a civilian slave hit by a cannonball during the battle, Pastor Alfred L. Jones III researched her and discovered she died three days after surrender – she died a free woman.

A session of the Wyoming Supreme Court was held in Sheridan, Wyoming, at the behest of the Sheridan Bar Association. Government students observed as the justices heard an oral argument in a case that involved the state of Wyoming seeking to recover fire suppression costs incurred after Black Hills Power started a wildfire on lance partially owned by the state.

Good Reads

Taking advantage of civil unrest
Many educators seized on student anger and frustration over events across the country that precipitated riots to teach civics in a relevant way.  A conference was held at New York University called "Race, Rights, and Responsibility" for 300 educators on how to do that. Federal and state officials – including Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez – met with community leaders and students at a Baltimore school that had seen rioting over the death in police custody of a local and the principal of that school promised classroom activities to help students gain understanding.

Eighth-graders make no headway
Nationally, 8th-graders’ average scores on the NAEP U.S history, geography and civics assessments showed no significant change from 2010 to 2014. This interactive report presents average score and achievement level results of the nation’s 8th-grade students by gender, race/ethnicity, parental education levels and other student groups.

Civic and digital literacy
Students today must be civically and digitally literate, globally competent and proficient in the four Cs – critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation. To that end, P21, the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, has released "The Parents Guide to 21st Century Learning and Citizenship," a free online resource with tips, strategies for parents to help prepare kids for the future of citizenship, learning and the workforce.

Names in the News

South Carolina Superintendent of the Year
Stephen Hefner, National Center for Learning and Civic Engagement (NCLCE) Executive Board member, has been named South Carolina Superintendent of the Year for the second time by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators. He is the first superintendent to receive the honor twice. Hefner also is a past NCLCE board chair.

Thank you for reading Citizenship Matters. For questions, comments or submissions, contact Paul Baumann at (303) 299.3622 or

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