Founding Civics Initiative: National Effort to Improve High School Civics Expands to Sixth Region
Advocates have long been highlighting the failure of civics education to equip students with necessary knowledge for life in a democratic republic. The current crisis in civics requires intervention before students finish high school.
Building upon JMC’s higher education programs, the Founding Civics Initiative supports teacher education that re-grounds middle and high school civics and American history curricula in our nation’s founding principles.
Working with our national network of partner professors, this initiative offers seminars and courses specially designed for secondary-school teachers. Programs deepen teachers’ understanding of important texts and ideas in American political life and help them develop curricula for their classrooms.
This national project was launched in Chicago in 2016 and has expanded to New York City, Virginia, Wisconsin, and now Florida.
Despite the pandemic, JMC conducted more programs for teachers in 2020 than ever before. Through new virtual formats, nearly 130 teachers in eight states participated this year in some 80 hours of online discussions and workshops.
There is no better example of the Jack Miller Center’s ambition to improve civic education at the secondary level than the new American Civics and History Initiative in Florida, our first statewide initiative in partnership with the Ashbrook Center and the Bill of Rights Institute.
Jack Miller has long had a vision for such collaboration between content-based civic organizations. ACHI is making that vision a reality with a $1.6 million program supporting 174 webinars, seminars, and workshops.
Over the next two years, the initiative will reach nearly 7,000 Florida educators. Through a combination of virtual and in-person programming, ACHI will dramatically expand JMC’s Florida teacher network.
Led by partner professors, JMC programs take teachers on a deep dive in founding documents and ideas. Sessions explore the foundations of rights, the Federalist and Anti-Federalist debates, separation of powers, federalism, and more. After reading and discussing key primary sources, teachers work together on classroom application sessions with curricular experts and master teachers to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to students.
Florida is a national leader in civic education, and the ACHI model will serve as a template for similar initiatives across the nation. If the early success of ACHI is an indicator, JMC and its partners are making huge strides toward stronger civic education.
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