Tell the U.S. Department of Education that You Support Federal Funding for Civic Education!

Dear Friends of Civic Learning and the Social Studies:

The U.S. Department of Education has invited the nation to submit comments and suggestions for priorities and definitions for the Department’s various discretionary (competitive) grant programs.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education published a list of supplemental priorities and definitions to be used in awarding discretionary (competitive) grants made by the Department. The Department is now proposing to repeal the 2010 priorities and definitions and replace them with new priorities.

This is an opportunity to recommend that the Department include Social Studies (which include civic learning, economics, geography, and history) as a supplemental priority in the Department’s discretionary grants.

Please use your own voice and your own words. You may wish to refer to the Campaign for the Civic Mission of the Schools’ “Civics Fact Sheet 2014” which provides data you can use in crafting your message as well as the to the announcement from the Department. Here also are some suggestions from the civic learning and social studies community:

  • Establish a separate Priority Area for the Social Studies similar to proposed Priority Seven for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics);
  • Fund innovative social studies projects that target under-served school populations (as outlined in the Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Learning Act of 2013 bill);
  • Supporting innovative social studies teacher professional development models that are replicable;
  • Implementing social studies projects that employ new technologies and delivery systems;
    Funding projects that encourage school/community partnerships that enhance students’ civic knowledge and skills;
  • Encouraging states to develop fewer, clearer, and higher standards of learning and curricular frameworks in the social studies.

If you believe that educating students to be prepared for civic life is essential to our democratic republic, please submit your comments/suggestions to the U.S. Department of Education here (there you will find a blue box saying ‘Comment Now’ in the upper right hand corner).

Please send a copy of your submission to We will collect and share submissions with other supporters of civic learning and the social studies.

The deadline for submitting comments/suggestions is: Thursday July 24, 2014. Please act today. Thank you for making your voice heard!

Click here to learn more.


The VOICE of the future…

An engaging day at CRFC’s Primary VOICE seminar

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend another one of CRFC’s hidden gems. Involving 20 primary grade Chicago Public School teachers, CRFC’s Primary VOICE fosters literacy and encourages civic learning through the use of children’s literature, with a curriculum that combines the development of reading skills and law-related education.

Martin Luther King Jr once famously said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” This is true for all ages and especially important for children – as it helps form a foundation of understanding and acknowledging the philosophy of “I can.” The Primary VOICE 20 hour professional development program for primary grade teachers is designed in such a way, that it facilitates them to help increase in their kids – the understanding of governance, participation, responsibility, and conflict resolution.

At the meeting that took place last week, the teachers shared classroom experiences, discussed reading extensions, and shared and assessed student work. Sandra, a 3rd grade teacher says, “It was really great that the teachers themselves did the activities and discussions, instead of having someone just give us a textbook explanation. It has helped me understand the value and benefit of some of these core lessons. I had to think strategically, which means my students will have to as well.”

Sandra’s favorite part of the workshop was when CRFC staff analyzed a few selected children’s books, and obtained from them the lessons of equality, responsibility, conflict resolution and governance.

Celeste, a kindergarten teacher was particularly moved by the Candy Store – a story about a young child, facing and fighting racial prejudices. She says, “My kids come from different ethnic backgrounds, and oftentimes are unable to completely understand the cultural nuances of their classmates. Stories like these will resonate and develop an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding.”

While Rosa, a 3rd grade teacher, was deeply impacted with Amelia’s Road – a tale of a daughter of migrant farm workers, who dreams of a stable home. She reflects, “Many of my students come from broken homes, with separated or divorced parents. A story about a child their age, craving stability, and overcoming odds, penetrates their hearts – and the lesson learnt, stays on to serve a much higher purpose.”

Along with this, the teachers were also introduced to the State v. Wolf Mock Trial Program –Based on the story of “The Three Little Pigs,” State v. Wolf gives primary students the chance to participate in the jury system, with opportunities to practice important critical reading, listening, thinking, and deliberating skills.

All in all, this is a fantastic professional development session, hosted by CRFC and generously funded by Polk Bros. Foundation. Apart from the insightful learnings, teachers are also given CPDUs and a stipend, to be a part of this change-enabling literacy program.

Personally, I would recommend this program to every primary teacher in Illinois. Take time out of your summer for just 2 days – and see yourself empowered with the knowledge and acumen, to enlighten your students for the upcoming school year- and perhaps the rest of their lives!


20140218_184037 - CopyJuly 14, 2014

By Palak Shukla.

Ms. Shukla is CRFC’s Summer Marketing and Communications intern. She is originally from Mumbai, India has 3 years of experience in Communications. She is now studying Digital Media at Loyola University.