It is the role of schools and especially social studies to prepare students to be active citizens in their democracy. Our classrooms are laboratories for democracy and it is our duty to afford students equitable opportunities so that they become not only college and career ready, but civically ready, too. Civic education includes civic knowledge, skills, dispositions, and experiences that are wrapped up in government, history, geography, and economics, as well as building capacity in all the other disciplines. In social studies classes, we focus those efforts on college and career readiness, but also on preparing students for engaged civic life.
But civic education needs time to develop. The Kentucky Council for the Social Studies advocates that an additional half or whole credit be added to the existing requirement for graduation. Currently, only US history is mandated by the state, but this additional half or whole credit would focus on ensuring civic readiness. The envisioned fourth credit will have a civics focus and will have students planning and carrying out a civic capstone project that shows their aptitude in the different civic competencies. Students will demonstrate in these capstones how civic knowledge of the principles of democracy, processes and structures of our institutions, and how perennial issues continue to shape our nation. Students will hone their thinking through cognitive skills that will enable students to synthesize and evaluate policies and ideas, while thinking critically of their own. Students will think and act through civic skills by deliberating with fellow citizens in and out of school to promote personal and common interests and making decisions through taking informed action. Students will, through this capstone process, through this additional credit, develop the necessary civic dispositions that affirm the very principles of the assessment and accountability system, as well as existing AP/IB, Honors programs and academies and the root goals of education--namely, exemplifying the moral traits of democratic citizenship through a conscious decision to promote equality, fairness, justice, and a commitment to the common good.
Too often, instead of reflecting the dynamic nature of civic participation in society, civic education becomes the accumulation of knowledge through textbooks or demonstrated through multiple choice civics exams. The additional year of social studies, directed by a capstone project will allow for students to practice civic participation in an authentic manner, and will be a valuable assessment piece in determining students’ civic readiness where students can demonstrate with fidelity what no test can access.
The Kentucky Council for the Social Studies condemns the actions of state representatives who, in an attempt to pass unpopular pension legislation, attached the bill to one focused on sewage. The amendment to SB 151, introduced by representatives Jonathan Shell and John “Bam” Carney made it through the House and Senate last night, and only needs the signature of the Governor. This bill was introduced and voted on without public comment, and although a statement exists, it lacks a true actuarial analysis, citing a report from March 6th. One of the most upsetting aspects of this bill is that by all accounts it does little to address the pension shortfall in the state, thus becoming more punitive to teachers than anything.
The council sees the tactics used to push the bill through as reckless, and view this backroom dealing as another attack on public education. Conversely, the council would like to thank state representatives who voted against the bill and who continue to champion our public education system and teachers.
Bill Sponsor, John "Bam" Carney contact information: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/legislator/H051.htm
Annex: 502-564-8100 Ext. 660
Kentucky teachers to skip work after lawmakers' 'bait and switch' on pension reform