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Showing posts from April, 2020

Classroom Resources to #Teach2020

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist
Last week, Dr. Shawn Healy, Director of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation's Democracy Program, hosted the third in a series of spring webinars designed to connect educators with content and resources to #teach2020. Among the topics Dr. Healy addressed were a retrospective of the Illinois primary, remaining primaries and caucuses, the coming veepstakes, and various electoral college scenarios in November. Did you miss it? Educators are welcome to access a recording of the one hour webinar.

Registration is now open for our next webinar on May 12th from 3:45-4:30 will examine, “Does the Progressive Tax Add Up for Illinois?” In this session, Dr. Healy will examine the referendum on the Illinois Fair Tax, an amendment to the Illinois Constitution that would change the state income tax system from a flat tax to a graduated income tax.


Throughout our #Teach2020 series, we concluded each webinar with resources and ideas for teache…

What Kind of Citizen during a Pandemic?

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist
Last week, I had the privilege of talking about putting civics in the middle with some of the hosts of #sschat on the Talking Social Studies podcast. Our brief conversation was wide-ranging but ultimately led to how we can foster student civic engagement, even during a pandemic.

Using the paradigm outlined in What Kind of Citizen? by Joe Kahne and Joel Westheimer, we discussed the three descriptions of the “good” citizen” — personally responsible, participatory, and justice-oriented citizens outlined in the journal article and what they might look like for students in a pandemic to foster authentic civic action.

To review the main ideas of Kahne and Westheimer’s work:
Many schools foster the personally responsible citizen through Character Counts and community service initiatives. Students are given opportunities to be personally responsible as an individual by recycling, donating items to the school food drive, or donating blo…

Red State, Blue State: From Midwestern Firewalls to Sunbelt Horizons

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by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Democracy Program Director
Having reviewed Illinois’ March primary results and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s Veepstakes in the previous two posts, today’s topic is the November General Election and various Electoral College scenarios that will determine whether President Trump earns a second term. It goes without saying that electoral math makes for some great cross-curricular civic learning connections.

Article II, Section I of the Constitution establishes an Electoral College to select presidents, balancing the will of the people with state interests. It allocates two Electoral Votes to each state with an additional vote per congressional district, thus a minimum of three, and via the 23rd Amendment, also awarding three Electoral Votes to the District of Columbia. Combined, 50 states and DC yield 538 Electoral Votes, with 270 constituting a majority.

Two of the past five presidential elections (2000 and 2016) produced Electoral Col…

High-Stakes Presidential Matchmaking: A Rubric for Selecting a Running Mate

by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Democracy Program Director
Senator Bernie Sanders’ exit from the Democratic Presidential Primary last week makes former Vice President Joe Biden the Party’s presumptive nominee. Sanders will remain on the ballot through the conclusion of state contests in July (see a revised list of postponed and still-to-come primaries) in a bid to exact further leverage on the party platform through ongoing delegate accumulation. In addition to winning the requisite number of delegates (the original 1,991 may be in flux due to bonuses awarded by the Democratic Party to states holding later contests), Biden must navigate campaigning at a time of stay-at-home orders and social distancing, raise significant sums of money for the fall advertising and get-out-the-vote blitz, and pick a running mate prior to the postponed Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.

While there is no shortage of prognosticating as to who Biden will/should select, this post will lay out a rubric t…

Illinois Primary Results Revisited as COVID-19 Crisis Cripples Turnout

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by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Democracy Program Director
In what now seems like ancient history, Illinois Civics Instructional Specialist Mary Ellen Daneels and I previewed Super Tuesday and the St. Patrick’s Day primaries that included Illinois in a February 18 webinar. While Ohio and many states since postponed their primaries amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois pushed ahead with voting days before a statewide shelter-in-place directive. What follows is my analysis of the results, and please join us for our April 21 webinar on Election 2020 titled “End Game.”

Recall that Illinois will send 155 pledged delegates, plus an additional 29 superdelegates, to the Democratic National Convention now scheduled for the week of August 17 in Milwaukee. By defeating Senator Bernie Sanders by 23 points in Illinois on March 17 (59.0% to 36%; see tally and map below), former Vice President Biden claimed 94 delegates to Sanders’ 60 with one yet to be allocated. Biden’s victory was expansive, winning 101…