FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 3/14/2014
Councilmember Nick Licata
Committee calls for ‘Civics for All’ initiative to bolster student engagement in Seattle Schools
SEATTLE – A resolution supporting the "Civics for All" initiative was unanimously adopted by the Council’s Finance and Culture Committee today. The Resolution calls for an increase in civics education for students—the study of the rights and duties of citizenship and the relationships among citizens and with their government. In a unique coordinated effort, the King County Council is expected to vote in support of the initiative on Monday on the same day as the City’s Full Council.
The "Civics for All" program proposes a set of tenets to help students in Seattle Schools learn about civic life and to suggest ways that civics could be integrated across the curriculum. The tenets include:
- Voting and elections, with mock elections in each school each year;
- Civics classroom-based assessments, with at least three civics assessments each year for each grade level; and,
- Media literacy education to help students learn about electoral politics and current events.
"We can’t let ‘House of Cards’ serve as the foundation for students’ civics education. By introducing more civics into our classrooms, we empower new generations to become actively engaged in our city, county, state and country," said Councilmember Nick Licata, the resolution’s sponsor. "I particularly look forward to seeing the initiative’s goal of increasing civic engagement among Seattle youth realized through mock elections held in schools," Licata added.
A similar measure, King County Council Motion 2014-0068, sponsored by Council Chair Larry Phillips, which declares the County Council’s support for the Civics for All Initiative, is expected to be voted on in Full Council during Monday’s meeting of the King County Council on March 17. Together, through this legislation, the City and the County send a unified message on the value of introducing more civics education in the classroom.
Experts consider the initiative crucial to empowering new generations to become active, critical thinkers in our democracy. According to Tufts University, civic education is good for young people’s academic success and prospects on the job market; Only 2% of Seattle’s non-college-educated adults have any kind of civic leadership role, meaning that their voice is missing in the city’s neighborhoods. Seattle’s high school students who are not on a path to college need more education and encouragement to participate in civic life.
The "Civics for All Initiative," which was developed by a Seattle schoolteacher, Web Hutchins, has been vetted by experts from the University of Washington, Seattle University, Stanford University, and the Center for Civics Education. A final vote by the City’s Full Council is expected on Monday, March 17th.