Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools Education for Democracy
  A Long-Term Effort to Renew and Elevate Civic Learning in Our Nation's Schools

Welcome to the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools

The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools is a coalition of 40 organizations committed to improving the quality and quantity of civic learning in American schools. The Campaign's goal is to increase and improve civic learning in grades K-12 by working for policies that implement the recommendations of the Civic Mission of Schools report. This includes efforts to bring about changes in national, state, and local education policy.

The idea of the civic mission of schools is not new. Many of our founding fathers advocated the establishment of public schools as the only way of preserving American democracy. We encourage you to explore our site and to learn more about the work of the Campaign and its coalition of partner organizations.

NAEP Results Show Civic Shortfalls

On May 4th, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released the 2010 "Nation's Report Card on Civics" at a press conference in Washington, DC. For the third NAEP Civics Report on a row, (1998, 2006, 2010) the results are very disappointing and should be a wake up call for the nation that we are failing to impart the civic knowledge, skills and disposition critical to being an informed and engaged citizen. CMS Co-Chair, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, told the audience that, "today’s NAEP results confirm that we have a crisis on our hands when it comes to civics education." The data revealed that only 27 percent of fourth-graders, 22 percent of eighth-graders and 24 percent of twelfth-graders scored proficient or higher in civics – meaning that millions of young Americans will be unprepared to be the informed and engaged citizens a healthy democracy requires. For more, see this CMS press release or a New York Times article on the release.

Sign the Petition to Support Civic Education

The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools is sponsoring this petition to remind all policymakers of the essential and historic role schools play in providing the knowledge, skills and disposition for informed and engaged citizenship. The goal of education is more then preparing students for higher education and a successful career; equally important is the role schools play in providing civic participation skills. Please join Americans from across the nation in signing this petition reminding policymakers of the three essential C-s of education, preparation for College, Career and Citizenship. This petition will be presented to local, state and federal education policymakers in 2011. Click HERE, to sign.

CMS PUBLICATION: Case Studies of Eleven Schools and Districts that Make Civic Learning a Priority

The Campaign is very pleased to present our latest publication, "No Excuses: Schools and Districts that Make Preparing Students for Citizenship a Priority, and How Others Can Do It, Too." The report contains the findings of a special CMS task force which examined civic learning in eleven schools and districts that offer exemplary civic learning for all students. The report contains lessons learned from each school and district, showing that high quality civic learning is not only possible but replicable and scalable in every school and district across the nation.

The report contains a foreword by CMS Co-Chair, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. We deeply appreciate the work of all those who made this report possible: Mabel McKinney-Browning (CMS Steering Committee Chair) Molly McCloskey (Task Force Chair), Sam Chaltain, Todd Clark, Susan Griffin, Debra Lesser, Kelly Nuxoll, Kelley O'Brien, Carolyn Pereria, Terry Pickeral and Dee Runaas. Special thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for financial support and to the Public Education Division of the American Bar Association for editorial assistance.

Featured Publication: AEI Study on Social Studies

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has released a fascinating and informative study on what teachers are teaching students about citizenship and what it means to be an American. This study of public and private school teachers offers an insight into what teachers are teaching, how they rate their schools performance and dedication to civic learning and the role of testing in civic learning. The Executive Summary of the study, entitled "High Schools, Civics and Citizenship: What Social Studies Teachers Think and Do" can be found here. The full study can be found at

Featured Publication: "Civics Back to the Front Burner"

Anne O'Brien, Acting Director of the Learning First Alliance, has published a wonderful article entitled "Civics Back to the Front Burner, which appeared recently in Edutopia and was widely picked up by other sources. In the article, Anne defines and calls for a renewal of the civic mission of our schools and highlights the award winning work of front-line civics teacher Sally Broughton, Montana's 2009 Teacher of the Year. The article can be found here.

CMS Recommendations on the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

With the reauthorization of the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as No Child Left Behind) on the horizon, The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools is pleased to present its recommendations for the reauthorization. Three major improvements to the law would serve to advance civic learning:

  • 1) Fund civic learning at the level of approximately $2 per student through competitive grants to develop innovative, scalable approaches to teaching civic education (compared to 2007 levels of $25.64 for reading and $19. 45 for STEM).

  • 2) Increase the frequency of National Assessments in Educational Progress (NAEPs) in civics, history, economics and geography, and provide disaggregated data from NAEPs in civics and history.

  • 3) Include data from student achievement and growth in civics and history in state accountability data systems.

Click here for the full policy paper outlining CMS's recommendations.

Study Released: Effective Civic Learning Builds 21st Century Skills

The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools and the American Bar Association (Public Education Division) are proud to announce the release of a new study that shows effective civic learning builds the 21st Century Skills important to a student's success in College, Career and Citizenship."Paths to 21st Century Competencies Through Civic Education," was authored by Dr. Judith Torney-Purta (University of Maryland), an internationally respected education and psychology scholar; with Dr. Britt Wilkenfeld. The results of the study show that those students who receive quality civic learning experiences showed the highest scores on demonstrating 21st Century Competencies.

Vermont Secretary of State Shows Effectiveness of Interactive Civic Learning

Secretary of State Deb Markowitz of Vermont released the findings of a survey of high school students to determine the impact of participation in a voting simulation on student civic attitudes and behaviors. The results suggest that the newest generation of Vermont adults will be more active and engaged than the ones before it. It also affirms the value of civic education programs and, in particular, mock election programs that teach kids the importance of voting to our democracy.

Campaign Conducts OpEd Blitz Nationwide!

The Campaign launched a major publicity effort to place Opinion Editorials in newspapers across the nation on or about September 17th, Constitution Day. Prominent authors were recruited to pen op-eds on the vital importance of civic learning and the need to restore the civic mission of schools. Dozens of op-eds have been published as part of this drive. Authors have included Campaign Advisory Committee Co-Chairs Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Congressman Lee Hamilton, as well as a range of other prominent Americans from both political parties and our state campaigns across the nation. Click any of the names below to read the op-eds.

National Op-eds:

State Op-eds:

Justice O'Connor Speaks at CMS Steering Committee Meeting

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Co-chair of the Campaign's National Advisory Committee, met with the Campaign Steering Committee on September 23rd at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Members of the Steering Committee reviewed position papers and recommendations for new projects for the Campaign to undertake to help every school in the nation strengthen their approach to civic learning.

  • Click here for a picture from the meeting.

Key Links

Civic Learning Online

Practices, Professional Development, and School & District Models.
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Statement on the Tragedy in Tucson

CMS and the Character Education Partnership released a joint statement on the January 8th tragedy in Tucson.

A Key Coalition: Civics as part of a Well-Rounded Education

At a Capitol Hill Policy Briefing on July 29th, the Campaign joined with ASCD, National Council for the Social Studies, the National Association for Music Education and a host of other education organizations, representing a wide array of subject areas, in releasing consensus recommendations for how the federal government can better support core subjects beyond reading and math. The policy recommendations are a response to the No Child Left Behind Act's singular focus on student performance in reading and math in addition to the Administration’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) blueprint and FY11 budget request, which continue to prioritize reading and math over other subjects. The consensus statement, recommendations, and signatories are available here. More information on this initiative and the Capitol Hill event may be found here.
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