A Common Mission: Democracy Schools and the Illinois Civics Law

by Katie Knopp, Will County Teacher Mentor


“Preparing students to become competent and caring citizens who will actively and critically think, participate and communicate.”

This statement is the cornerstone of what makes my high school, Neuqua Valley, a Democracy School. As a Democracy School we are recognized for providing students with authentic experiences in the rights, responsibilities, and tensions inherent when living in a constitutional democracy. Through these experiences, we strive to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for informed, effective engagement in our democracy. As a Democracy School we embrace the Five Common Elements that are important to maintain civic learning throughout the school.

  • Vision and Leadership
  • Curriculum
  • Staff Development
  • School-Community Connections
  • School Climate

As we begin to implement the new civics law, we see how the core components of the law, Foundations, Current and Controversial Issues, Service Learning, and Simulations of the Democratic Process, provide numerous opportunities for students to participate in the democratic process. As a Democracy School, students participate in lively discussions of current issues and democratic simulations such as mock presidential campaigns and deliberations. All of these opportunities not only embrace the tenets of being a democracy school but also compliments the standards within the law. Through both the tenets and the law, students are able to experience first-hand the critical role they can play in shaping their government and society.

Want more information about how to implement the new law? Register for an upcoming Civic Education Workshop! #CivicsIsBack

Interested in becoming a Democracy School?

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