Civic Education Wins in the California State Legislature
October 26, 2017
By Senator Henry Stern
I am very pleased to announce that AB 24, establishing a State Seal of Civic Engagement for students, was signed into law this legislative session. As a co-author of the bill, my hope is this new seal will provide recognition for young people who are already participating in, and are knowledgeable about, our democracy. I also hope it will provide motivation for other students to become involved.
The bill requires that on or before January 1, 2020, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction recommend criteria to the State Board of Education for awarding the seal. The State Superintendent will also develop the seal insignia, which will be affixed to a student’s high school diploma or transcript.
In another win for student civic engagement, ACR 129 was chaptered. This resolution recognizes the importance of civic engagement across the state of California. It articulates the problem of a steady decline in civic engagement, both in California and nationally, and “the need for civic engagement programs and opportunities for all populations and communities in California, especially minority populations, underrepresented communities, and students.”
I am also pleased to announce that my SB 332 will guarantee that foster youth transitioning into adulthood are provided voter registration resources to help them become more civically engaged. These often marginalized youth may not have an adult in their lives to provide them with voter registration information, something easily overlooked during this transitional age.
Furthermore, I will continue to advocate for other youth-oriented civic engagement opportunities, such as a Student Empowerment Commission as proposed in my SB 596 and working with local judges to engage in student-driven restorative justice hearings like SHADES (Stop Hate and Delinquency by Empowering Students in Los Angeles County.
I appreciate the leadership that Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and the Power of Democracy Steering Committee have provided on civic learning and engagement, and look forward to continuing to work in the state legislature on this issue of vital importance to our state.