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Showing posts from September, 2018

Face and Embrace Conference

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by Sonia Mathew, Civic Learning Manager
On August 15th and 16th, nearly 300 teachers came together for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), “Face and Embrace: Waking up to Racial Equity in Education” conference at North Grand High School, sponsored by the CPS Social Science and Civic Engagement Department.

Guiding principles for this conference included the opportunity to:
Reflect on our own awareness and relationship to raceBuild knowledge, skills, and convictionEngage in building equity to make strategic and informed decisions Throughout the two-day conference participants, speakers, and presenters worked to answer these guiding questions:



Presenters created sessions that connected to the essential questions, which provided a great framing for attendees as well as questions for educators to reflect on their practice as it relates to building racial equity in education.

I presented a session on Racial Equity in Democracy Schools, where teachers had the opportunity to analyze the…

Confronting Civic Inequities

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Lead Teacher Mentor
In his most recent blog post, Shawn Healy illustrated how APGOV scores in Illinois raise important questions about “deep inequities along racial and ethnic lines.” This data is not an isolated incident. The evidence of inequity and a civic empowerment gap has been well documented by researchers and has been referenced in previous blog posts. While measurements documenting the impact of the new Illinois civics requirement are encouraging, there is work still to be done in the area of equity. Mandating an equal opportunity for students to have civic instruction is a start but it does not guarantee equity. I do not have all of the answers concerning this important issue, but I am willing to engage in the conversation and collaborate with you to affect change.


I recently had the opportunity to “start the conversation” at a conference hosted by Dr. Diana Hess at the University of Wisconsin- Madison that engaged teachers who used the Legis…

Civic Opportunity and Achievement Gap Mar APGOV Test Results in Illinois

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by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Democracy Program Director
The Advanced Placement Test for U.S. Government and Politics (APGOV) is among the most popular in Illinois, ranking behind only English, Calculus, U.S. History, and Psychology among exams taken by Illinois students in 2017. For many students, APGOV is their seminal civics course, taught by the most esteemed member of the social studies department.

Based on my analysis of 2017 score distributions, more than half of APGOV test takers in Illinois (54.0%) earned a score of 3 or higher, qualifying many for college credit and/ or preferable registration status. But beneath these impressive numbers are deep inequities along racial and ethnic lines.

In Table 1 below, I juxtaposed the racial/ ethnic breakdown of APGOV test takers with the composition of the student body in Illinois schools as a whole. White and Asian students are disproportionately more likely to take the APGOV test than their Black and Hispanic peers. Black students are u…

SCOTUS Takes Center Stage

by Mary Ellen Daneels, Lead Teacher Mentor
This week, the confirmation hearings of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be the 114th justice to serve on the United States Supreme Court will be front and center in many #CivicsIsBack classrooms. Nina Totenberg from National Public Radio states that abortion, gun rights, presidential power and campaign finance reform are likely to be current and controversial issues addressed in the hearings.

It is the perfect opportunity to address essential questions such as:
How should the government balance individual rights with the common good?Are the branches balanced?What responsibilities do people in charge have to others?Who has the power and why?What should be the role of the judicial branch?How should the courts interpret the law?Does the structure of the federal court system allow it to administer justice effectively?To what extent has the judiciary protected the rights of privacy, security, and personal freedom? To help #CivicsIsBack classrooms expl…