Resources

Below are additional resources related to civic learning and education.  Please note that any information or materials on external sites was not produced or endorsed by Power of Democracy Steering Committee members.  In addition, some reports may require a subscription to view.

Related Web Sites

  • My Digital Chalkboard
    California Department of Education Website where educators can share lesson plans and professional development resources.
  • Literacy and the Law
    Literacy and the Law is designed to engage your K-12 students in civics, language arts, and visual and performing arts through units of study that include appealing mock trials.
  • California Courts Civics Education
    This project of the Judicial Council of California features resources for educators, students, attorneys and the general public about the judicial branch and its role in our democracy.
  • Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools
    Focused on implementing strategies outlined in the report “Guardian of Democracy: The Civic Mission of Schools,” which provides a comprehensive look at the role civic learning plays in maintaining our democracy, examines the major problems confronting civic learning, shows six proven practices in effective civic learning and provides recommendations for policymakers, educators and all citizens.
  • Center for Civic Education
    The Center is dedicated to promoting an enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy in the United States and other countries.
  • The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE)
    CIRCLE conducts research on civic education in schools, colleges, and community settings and on young Americans’ voting and political participation, service, activism, media use, and other forms of civic engagement. It is based at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University.
  • iCivics
    Founded and led by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, iCivics provides students with the tools they need for active participation and democratic action, and teachers with the materials and support to achieve this.  Free resources include print-and-go lesson plans, award-winning games, and digital interactives.
  • Street Law
    Street Law develops classroom and grassroots programs that educate students and communities about law, democracy, and human rights. However, the majority of the group’s efforts, including popular professional development programs, are focused on training others—individuals and organizations—to become effective Street Law educators. The approach is practical, relevant, and experiential, blending legal content with innovative hands-on teaching strategies that actively engage students and program participants in the learning process.
  • Constitutional Rights Foundation
    The Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) is a non-profit, non-partisan, community-based organization dedicated to educating America’s young people about the importance of civic participation in a democratic society. Under the guidance of a Board of Directors chosen from the worlds of law, business, government, education, the media, and the community, CRF develops, produces, and distributes programs and materials to teachers, students, and public-minded citizens all across the nation.
  • California YMCA Youth & Government
    The YMCA is a cause-driven organization that focuses on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. California YMCA Youth & Government is an integral part of the YMCA movement and has been providing service to local YMCAs for more than 64 years. They now engage over 3,000 middle school and high school youth each year from across the state in programs emphasizing civic involvement. Their efforts build, strengthen and encourage life assets and positive character traits.
  • Junior Statesmen Foundation
    In the student-run Junior State and at Junior State of America summer schools and summer institutes, participants learn statesmanship as they engage in political discourse. They cultivate democratic leadership skills, challenge one another to think critically, advocate their own opinions, develop respect for opposing views and learn to rise above self-interest to promote the public good.
  • California Campus Compact
    As the only coalition that brings together the diverse collection of California colleges and universities together around a common commitment to higher education’s civic purposes, California Campus Compact is a powerful ally in making the case for civic engagement, public service and student involvement in campus-community partnerships – and for sustaining the momentum for higher education’s public service role in California.
  • Facing History and Ourselves
    Facing History and Ourselves was created by educators who believed that instilling intellectual vigor and curiosity goes hand-in-hand with teaching facts and figures. The group provides training, professional development, and resources that support the practical needs, and the spirits, of educators worldwide who share the goal of creating a better, more informed, and more thoughtful society.
  • The LegiSchool Project
    The LegiSchool Project is a civic education collaboration between California State University, Sacramento, and the California State Legislature, administered by the Center for California Studies.  The Project’s mission is to engage young people in matters of public policy and state government by creating opportunities for students and state leaders to meet and share ideas on the problems affecting Californians.  Programs of the project include town hall meetings between state officials and high school students as well as essay, photo and PSA contests.
  • Arsalyn Program
    The Arsalyn Program of the Ludwick Family Foundation was created to encourage young Americans to become informed and active participants in the electoral process.  The program sponsors several projects that allow youth to become involved in the civic process.
  • California Association of Student Leaders (CASL)
    The California Association of Student Leaders provides an annual conference for high school and middle school student government leaders.  The group is governed by a student Board of Directors and is sponsored by the California Association of Directors of Activities.
  • National Constitution Center
    The National Constitution Center is the first and only institution in America established by Congress to “disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a non-partisan basis in order to increase the awareness and understanding of the Constitution among the American people.” The Constitution Center brings the United States Constitution to life by hosting interactive exhibitions and constitutional conversations and inspires active citizenship by celebrating the American constitutional tradition.  The physical museum is located in Philadephia, but the Center has a variety of online resources, including lesson plans for teachers and important historical documents.

California Studies/Reports

  • California’s Civic Education Policies
    CIRCLE, Tufts University, 2013 This document provides an overview and analysis of California’s civic education policies and how they fail to ensure that all students receive a quality education in civics.  In particular, the practice of providing civics education in the 12th grade is problematic because the last standardized test in social studies is given in the 11th grade and many students leave school before the final year of high school.
  • Non-Electoral Civic Engagement in California: Why Does the State Lag the Nation?
    Pepperdine University School of Public Policy, 2013 This report examines citizen engagement in political and social civic life in California. We begin by comparing the state to the nation at large, and find that California lags the nation in non-electoral civic engagement. The data also show that Whites were more engaged than Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians, and native citizens born in the US are more engaged than citizens born elsewhere and non-citizens. To analyze whether demographic factors determine why civic engagement differs in California, we employ a regression analysis. The participation gaps between California and the rest of the nation (excluding New York and Texas) can be entirely explained by differences in demographics for three of the five measures of civic engagement. For the other two, the differing demographic profile of California explains 45% to 59% of the gaps. We also find that ethnicity, race, and citizenship are generally the most important determinants and explain much of the California engagement gaps. The fact that California has more Hispanics, Asians, naturalized citizens, and noncitizens than the rest of the US thus appears to go a long way toward explaining the lower level of civic engagement in the state.
  • Californians & Education
    PPIC, April 2013 In this statewide survey 54 percent of respondents said including civics in K-12 curriculum is “very important.”
  • Preparing Students for College, Career, and CITIZENSHIP
    Los Angeles County Office of Education, 2012 This resource demonstrates how civic education and learning can be integrated into the new Common Core curriculum.
  • Improving California’s Democracy
    PPIC with funding from Bechtel Foundation, October 2012 California’s democracy depends on engaged and well-informed voters. The importance of a high-performing electorate in California goes beyond choosing elected officials. Through the citizen initiative process, California’s voters have a large and growing role in making public policy. But voters across the political spectrum express distrust and disillusionment with government—and a sizable portion of eligible Californians do not vote at all.
  • California Civic Health Index 2010
    National Conference of Citizenship, Pepperdine’s Davenport Institute, California Forward, and Center for Civic Education, 2010 The 2010 California Civic Health Index illustrates both the challenges to and promises of building a healthy civic culture in the state. In both its political and social findings, the results outlined in this report demonstrate that although Californians confront many hurdles to participation, they are responding positively with several engagement trend lines moving upward.
  • Civic Education in California: Policy Recommendations
    California Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, 2008 California requires and deserves world-class standards in civic education. In the coming years, California students will assume roles as engaged citizens, political leaders, and contributors to the workforce of the state, the nation, and beyond. With a diverse population that is approximately one-quarter foreign-born, California is challenged to educate students of all backgrounds in the fundamentals of democracy and civic skills. This requires ongoing attention and fidelity to the standards of high-quality civic education. California cannot afford to shortchange the education of these students nor risk the consequences of a civic-education curriculum that is left to chance. The political, economic, and social well-being of the state and the nation is entirely dependent upon the preparation and education of our young people.
  • Civic Development in Context: The Influence of Local Contexts on High School Students’ Beliefs about Civic Engagement
    Educating for Democracy Project, 2008 This paper examines the common features and social contextual differences of youth civic development. Social context is defined by demographic features of young people’s communities – racial and ethnic diversity, socioeconomic status, and population density. While conventional wisdom suggests these variables bear some relationship to youth civic development, the relationship has not been fully examined.
  • Civic Inequalities: Immigrant Volunteerism and Community Organizations in California
    PPIC, July  2006 Declining levels of civic participation—or volunteerism—have been a source of concern for some time in California. Even more troubling are the persistent differences in civic participation among the state’s racial, ethnic, and immigrant-generation groups. Relying on focus groups, interviews, and case studies, this report examines immigrant views of volunteerism and investigates the dynamics of community organizations. The authors find that immigrants face numerous barriers to civic participation and that community organizations are themselves confronting new challenges. Local governments can facilitate volunteerism among immigrants, the report suggests, by increasing contact with, and sponsorship of, ethnic and immigrant organizations in their communities.
  • The California Survey of Civic Education
    California Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, 2005 This study constructed and administered a survey to examine the civic knowledge, skills, and commitments of graduating high school seniors throughout the state and to assess the prevalence and impact of various educational practices as identified in The Civic Mission of Schools report. In 2005, the survey was conducted of 2,366 students who had completed a U.S. government course. Participating schools represented different geographic areas and were selected for a range of demographic and academic performance factors.
  • The Ties That Bind: Changing Demographics and Civic Engagement in California
    PPIC, April 2004 This volume provides a detailed and comprehensive picture of the relationship between demographic diversity and citizen involvement in civic affairs in California. The authors examine participation rates of various demographic groups across a wide range of political and volunteer activities. Their principal finding is that those who have the most say in California elections are also those who participate more in the broader civic life of the state. Demographic differences in participation associated with voting are also found in activities such as writing letters to elected officials, signing petitions, and contributing money to political causes. Specifically, those who are native-born, white, older, more affluent, homeowners, and more highly educated demonstrate the highest levels of civic engagement.

National Studies/Reports 

  • Youth Civic Development and Education
    Center on Adolescence, Stanford University and Center for Multicultural Education, University of Washington, 2014 Despite the clear urgency of this mission, civic education as practiced in schools throughout the United States is not preparing students for effective participation in civic life. Few young people are sufficiently motivated to become engaged in civic and political activity. Students are not finding inspiration in civic values as taught in schools today, nor are they gaining a sense that they are able to engage effectively in civic and political domains. Not surprisingly, sectors of the population from low-income and marginalized communities have been most affected by what has been called the “civic engagement gap.” But in fact the problem extends to every sector of the contemporary youth population. It is difficult to find significant numbers of young people from any sector who have enough interest in civic affairs to inspire any aspirations to present or future civic leadership. Such a lack of civic preparation and motivation among the young places the future of our democracy in great peril.
  • Civic Education as an Instrument of Social Mobility
    University of New Mexico School of Law, 2013 Economic inequality — the relative distance between the wealthy and the poor — is growing in the United States. Relatedly, social mobility — the opportunity to rise economically — has stalled for many in the nation. This is most true for the urban poor, who experience extreme poverty and are trapped in American inner cities. Meaningful economic opportunity and robust public educational support are among the traditionally-discussed means by which the urban poor may attain enhanced economic and physical mobility. The question becomes whether civic education — an understanding of the structure and contents of the U.S. Constitution and of the American government more broadly — has anything to offer in terms of uplifting the urban poor out of their economic stagnation and physical isolation. This Article explores, by way of interviews with various stakeholders, whether there is a cognizable relationship between civic education and increasing the urban poor’s prospects for social and physical mobility. It affirms that civic education can play a role in facilitating such mobility and argues that law schools should shoulder some of the responsibility to provide civic education in high schools located in urban areas of concentrated poverty. The Article also provides specific guidance on how civic education programs can be tailored to be most effective in these high schools.
  • We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: The Promise of Civic Renewal in America
    Peter Levine and Oxford University Press, 2013 Chronic unemployment, deindustrialized cities, and mass incarceration are among the grievous social problems that will not yield unless American citizens address them. Peter Levine’s We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For is a primer for anyone motivated to help revive our fragile civic life and restore citizens’ public role. After offering a novel theory of active citizenship, a diagnosis of its decline, and a searing critique of our political institutions, Levine argues that American citizens must address our most challenging issues.
  • Advancing Civic Learning and Engagement in Democracy
    US Dept of Education, 2012 Few would question that postsecondary institutions and public schools must today prepare students for a global, competitive job market, or that a good STEM education and superior reading and writing skills are important components of a world-class education. But it is a mistake to assume that advancing civic learning and democratic engagement is a zero-sum proposition that comes at the expense of STEM preparation and higher order communication skills. A growing body of evidence, including some outlined in A Crucible Moment, indicates that high-quality civic learning and democratic engagement is a win-win proposition in higher education and career preparation (National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement 2011).
  • Guardian of Democracy: The Civic Mission of Schools
    CIRCLE, Tufts University, the American Bar Association Division for Public Education, Peter Levine, 2011 This report was produced by the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools in partnership with the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the National Conference on Citizenship, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, and the American Bar Association Division for Public Education. This report builds and expands on the findings of the Civic Mission of Schools report, published in 2003 by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
  • Digital Opportunities for Civic Education
    American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and CIRCLE, 2011 The youngest generations participate the least in civic life, with a full 55 percent of those under thirty recently judged as civically and politically “disengaged’ in a report by the National Conference on Citizenship. Close to two- thirds (64 percent) of young adults aged 18-29 say that they are “not at all” interested in campaign news. Judged by traditional measures, current levels of youth civic knowledge and participation are problematic. This study argues that civic educators’ ability to address this situation productively requires increased attention to the civic and political dimensions of digital media.
  • Civics 2010: National Assessment of Educational Progress at Grades 4, 8, and 12
    U.S. Department of Education, 2010 Nationally representative samples of about 7,100 fourth-graders, 9,600 eighth-graders, and 9,900 twelfth-graders participated in the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in civics. At each grade, students responded to questions designed to measure the civics knowledge and skills that are critical to the responsibilities of citizenship in America’s constitutional democracy. Comparing the results from the 2010 assessment to results from two previous assessment years shows how students’ knowledge and skills in civics have progressed over time.
  • Paths to 21st Century Competencies Through Civic Education Classrooms
    American Bar Association and Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, 2009 Civic education, especially when it is interactive and involves discussion of current issues, is an important way to develop the skills that young Americans need to succeed in the 21st Century workforce. Students who experience interactive discussion-based civic education (either by itself or in combination with lecture-based civic education) score the highest on “21st Century Competencies,” including working with others (especially in diverse groups) and knowledge of economic and political processes. Students who experience neither interactive nor lecture-based civic education have the lowest scores on all of the 21st Century competencies examined. This group, which comprises about one-quarter of all American students, shows not only low levels of knowledge but also a relatively low level of willingness to obey the law.
  • Democracy for Some: The Civic Opportunity Gap in High School
    CERG, 2008 This study of high school civic opportunities finds that a student’s race and academic track, and a school’s average socioeconomic status (SES) determines the availability of the school-based civic learning opportunities that promote voting and broader forms of civic engagement. High school students attending higher SES schools, those who are college-bound, and white students get more of these opportunities than low-income students, those not heading to college, and students of color.
  • Teens, Video Games, and Civics
    Pew Research Center, 2008 Video games provide a diverse set of experiences and related activities and are part of the lives of almost all teens in America. To date, most video game research has focused on how games impact academic and social outcomes (particularly aggression). There has also been some exploration of the relationship between games and civic outcomes, but as of yet there has been no large-scale quantitative research. This survey provides the first nationally representative study of teen video game play, and of teen video gaming and civic engagement.
  • Themes Emphasized in Social Studies and Civics Classes: New Evidence
    CIRCLE and Peter Levine, 2004 A survey conducted by the Council for Excellence in Government and CIRCLE reveals unprecedented information about the content and significance of civics and social studies classes today. Overall, the curriculum and message of history and social studies classes appear to be more traditionalist than is commonly supposed.