STEAM Initiative

Civics Education in Schools Gains Steam

The Future of Everything covers the innovation and technology transforming the way we live, work and play, with monthly issues on health, money, cities and more. This month is Education & Learning, online starting Aug. 6 and in the paper on Aug. 13.

How do Americans on opposite sides of the culture wars find common ground? How do people from across the political spectrum engage in knowledgeable and productive dialogue? How do we strengthen the country’s constitutional democracy?

For many education experts, the answer is to start in the classroom.

In March, 300 scholars, educators and practitioners outlined a long-term vision to rework K-12 civics education in America, called the Educating for American Democracy Initiative. The same month, Democratic Sen. Christopher Coons and Republican Sen. John Cornyn introduced the “Civics Secures Democracy Act,” which calls for a $1 billion investment in teaching U.S. history and civics at the K-12 level. The growing efforts to teach children and teens about the workings of government, history and civil debate could change the focus of curriculum, as well as reshape how a generation thinks about the nation. Still, supporters acknowledge they face headwinds, including the need win over states and school districts, as well as criticism from some conservative groups.