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Showing posts from January, 2019

Refuse to be Silent About Things That Matter

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Lead Teacher Mentor
This past week, I joined many in my outrage over a controversial remarks by Iowa Congressman Steve King (R-4th) in a New York Times interview where he pondered, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” The statement was just the latest in a history of racially charged comments and divisive actions by the Iowa politician.

The comment drew outrage from both the right and left of the spectrum, and resulted in King being stripped of his committee assignments in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House also passed a resolution rejecting white supremacy and white nationalism by a vote of 424 to 1. Congressman Bobby Rush of Illinois (D-1) was the one member who voted against the resolution, saying it did not go far enough. Rush has introduced his own censure resolution, which represents a str…

Civic Education Systems Map Suggests Schools and Government Must Prioritize Subject

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by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Democracy Program Director
It is no secret to readers of the Illinois Civics blog that we believe sustained, school-wide commitments to civic learning will lead to the long-term resuscitation of the state’s civic health. The McCormick Foundation and Illinois Civics team are also active in the national movement to strengthen the field of civic learning through support for, and membership in, the CivXNow Coalition led by iCivics. The CivXNow Coalition prioritizes stronger state policies incentivizing school-based civic learning, expanded research and measurement of civic learning outcomes, and refined communication strategies to better make the case for the civic mission of schools.

As part of this effort, the Coalition fielded a two-part survey last year to determine why civic learning is so marginalized in schools, and what can be done to insure its prominence for posterity. More than 7,000 individuals participated, and Tufts University researchers produced a…

Understanding Executive Orders

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Lead Teacher Mentor
One of the most prevalent current and controversial issues in the news to date is President Trump’s possible use of executive orders to proclaim a national emergency to secure funding to build a wall along the United States-Mexico border. The use of executive orders is one of the more confusing concepts within the system of separation of powers. The legislative branch makes the law, the executive enforces the law, and the judicial branch interprets the law—right? So, where does the power of executive orders to create public policy (i.e. to fund the building of a border wall) come from?

The essential question, “to what extent can the president use executive orders to create public policy?” is an enduring issue throughout our nation’s history. There are a number of resources teachers can use to help their students investigate and deliberate this enduring issue.
IllinoisCivics.org has an inquiry that helps students gather evidence to engage…