Through this legislation:
- Schools will offer project-based civics instruction to all students twice in their K-12 career, once in middle school and once in high school.
- School districts will have the freedom to develop civics projects locally, with support and guidance from the Texas Education Agency and Regional Service Centers.
- The state will establish a Civics Education Project Fund, where both private and public funds can be allocated to support access to curriculum resources and teacher professional development.
Closing the Civic Empowerment Gap: Ensuring an Effective Civics Education for the Students of Texas
Texas suffers from some of the worst civic health indicators in the country, according to research from the Annette Strauss Institute at the University of Texas. The 2018 Civic Health Index ranks Texas 47th in voter turnout and 50th in discussing politics with family or friends. The report also found that fewer than 25% of Texans volunteer in their community and only 35% of Texans participate in one or more groups. The report’s primary recommendation to improve these numbers was to “reimagine civics education.”
Many Texans working within policy can recount their civic moment---the first time they heard deliberations at the Capitol, their debate club championship in high school, writing letters to their representatives in government class, or that one teacher who ignited their passion for politics. Unfortunately, these experiences do not happen for every student in Texas. We need to improve civics education for all of Texas’ students through offering a comprehensive, authentic civics curriculum that encourages a nonpartisan, project-based, in-depth approach to teaching civics and aligns with the best practices for civic learning.
The time for a reimagined civic education curriculum is now, as this initiative aligns with The State Board of Education’s Long-Range Plan, which includes improving student engagement and empowerment. Additionally, the SBOE found that teachers and parents alike named productive citizenship as one of the most important outcomes of education for Texas students. Similarly, the Texas Commission on Public School Finance report calls for a renewed focus on college, career, and military readiness, so that students are leaving graduating from high school prepared to participate in the workforce and as leaders in their communities. A renewed commitment to civics directly supports these visions.