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Showing posts from June, 2018

Resources for Understanding Current & Controversial Issues Surrounding the Census

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Lead Teacher Mentor
In a recent blog, Shawn shared some of the history and underpinnings of the controversy surrounding the return of the citizenship question on the short form of the census. Shawn explained “The legality of the ‘citizenship question’ is being challenged in federal court (Illinois is among the signatories). It reads ‘Is this person a citizen of the United States?’ Yes options include native born, born abroad to parents who are citizens, or a naturalized citizen. The no option is accompanied by the clause ‘not a citizen’.” The video clip from the Washington Post (linked to the right) further defines the controversy surrounding the citizenship question.


This summer, through a generous grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, illinoiscivics.org is hosting free, two-day workshops throughout the state of Illinois focusing on “Putting the Pieces Together: Civics, Standards and Curriculum Design” to support teachers in implementing the new Illino…

Census 2020: A Monday Morning Lesson Plan for Civics Classes

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by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Democracy Program Director
My teaching career began in the fall of 1999, and the 2000 Census was among the topics I tackled with students in my “Social Problems” classes. At the time, there was significant debate over whether the U.S. Constitution required a hard count of the population, or if statistical sampling techniques would suffice given their superior record for accuracy. The former interpretation prevailed, and the rest is history.

Yet the Census is a decennial phenomenon. Fast forward nearly twenty years, and a plethora of new issues have emerged, the subject of this first post in a two-part series on Census 2020.

Let’s begin by examining the constitutional underpinnings of the Census. Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution lays out the process of congressional apportionment based upon an “enumeration…made within the first three years of the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such…

Judy Baar Topinka’s Legacy of Public Service an Inspiration for Civic Learning in Illinois

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by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Democracy Program Director
On Monday, Illinois Civics Teacher Mentors convened in Champaign for the third and final collaboratory in preparation for a summer of intensive, two-day regional trainings that they will co-facilitate with Lead Mentor Mary Ellen Daneels.

The three-day collaboratory centers on the high school civics course requirement, K-12 social studies standards, and related curriculum design. Content focuses on the judicial branch, redistricting, and the 2020 Census, with pedagogical emphasis on creating lesson plans encompassing informed action and how to assess it authentically.

Mentors were also treated to a visit by Joseph Baar Topinka, author of a new book titled Just Judy that honors his late mother’s life devoted to public service. His mom served as State Representative, Senator, and Treasurer, and as the only female gubernatorial nominee of the Republican Party. Her 2006 bid for Governor ultimately fell short, but her second act as Stat…

Springfield Administrators Reflect and Model the Benefits of Diversity

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by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Democracy Program Director
Dating back as far as 2009, the McCormick Foundation, under the auspices of the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition, has worked with the DuPage County Regional Office of Education (ROE) to develop an administrator academy in civics. Like teachers, school administrators must accumulate continuing education credits in order to maintain their certification in the State of Illinois, and academies sponsored by ROE’s are one such vehicle.

While teachers will always be the heart and soul of our work to strengthen school-based civic learning in Illinois, administrators are another key stakeholder with the potential to lead their schools and districts in pursuit of their historic and contemporary civic mission. Lead teacher mentor Mary Ellen Daneels and I co-facilitate these academies. Mary Ellen engages participants in hands-on activities that demonstrate Illinois’ new K-12 social studies standards and high school civics course requirement, …