The California Department of Education and the California Judicial Council created the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning. Their Report on Revitalizing k-12 Civic Learning in California begins, “The success of our nation and state depends on educated, informed and active citizens and residents. However, we are not preparing our diverse residents with the civic knowledge, skills and values they need to succeed in college, career and civic life.” Judge Don Franson was invited to form a Civic Learning Partnership, one of 6 in the state. We have been meeting since 2015 to support civic education in our region. For more information, see the Power of Democracy Steering Committee website at www.powerofdemocracy.org.
The Civic Education Center Program was created in 2016 to train teachers to guide students to learn American civic values and ideals, identify a community problem, research to understand causes and potential solutions, and implement a civic service project. The Civic Education Center became a non-profit corporation in 2018. This school year, we served 29 teachers and 1,600 students in 4 school districts in Fresno County. Students chose issues like racism, mental health, poverty, drug addiction, honoring veterans and planting trees. Students experience responsible participation in our republic, working with community mentors to organize civic service projects. Students feel the power of engaging in democracy as their civic service projects have a positive impact on schools and communities. With the COVID-19 pandemic, students sheltered at home and learning was limited to online communications. CEC staff have worked with teachers and students to adjust to the crisis and adapt civic service to the new circumstances in our communities. We are creating new online opportunities for student civic engagement.