However, the tremendous progress of the civic learning movement over the last decade is threatened in Illinois and nationally.
For one, the transition to remote learning in K-12 has been highly inequitable as school districts and families navigate access to hardware and broadband, not to mention an overnight upheaval of the way we teach and learn.
Anecdotally, civic learning, and the social studies more generally, is being further marginalized as schools double down on tested subjects. While social distancing during this pandemic is highly recommended, the social studies, and civic learning specifically, is core to the mission of public education and must be woven throughout the K-12 curriculum, in-person, online, or both.
Our civic education nonprofits have worked admirably to assist educators and parents with the abrupt transition to home schooling at scale. At the same time, our nonprofit partners are struggling financially as spring benefits were cancelled, grants suspended, and individual donations redirected to emergency responses.
These partners have long provided leadership and structure to an underdeveloped and under resourced field. We must ensure they have the resources to survive the pandemic, continue the digital transition already underway, and assist students, teachers, schools, and districts in navigating the recovery to follow.
The CivXNow Coalition, which the McCormick Foundation supports through grant funding and I serve on the steering committee, is calling for a $40 million competitive grant program for civic education nonprofits to navigate these difficult times and the digital transition, particularly those serving students of color and low-income students in urban and rural areas. Take your own informed action by contacting Senators Durbin and Duckworth and your Representative, reference this letter signed by over 550 individuals and nearly 100 organizations, and urge their support of this vital appropriation as Congress formulates its next relief and recovery legislation.
Ask Democratic House members to contact Chairperson Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Republican members to contact Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) to express their support for our civics funding request; ask Senators Durbin and Duckworth to contact Senator Patti Murray (D-WA) to express their support for our civics funding request. To help us manage and monitor Congressional outreach, please reply to this email to let us know about any touch points you have with a Senator, House Member, or their respective staff regarding this funding.
A sample message follows.
Dear Senator/Representative ________________,
My name is (insert name), and I serve as (insert title and organization, if applicable) in (insert city of work or residence).
We are a major supporter of civic education in Illinois, and our nonprofit partners that assist us in supporting students, teachers, schools, districts, and families prepare for lifelong, informed engagement in our democracy are struggling with both the transition to digital-only learning and the economic crisis accompanying the pandemic (tailor this section to your own experience). We are thus signatories of the following letter calling for a $40 million appropriation to support these nonprofit partners as Congress develops its next relief legislation: bit.ly/CivXNowCL.
And as you know, Illinois, and Chicago specifically, has one of the strongest local ecosystems of civic education nonprofits. We need them now more than ever and have a vested interest in ensuring that they are part of pandemic relief and the necessary recovery and reforms to follow.
Please reach out to Chairperson DeLauro/Ranking Member Cole/Senator Murray to express your support for our civics funding request.
Thanks in advance for your consideration,
Congress, and Americans more generally, must understand the vital importance of an informed and engaged citizenry now more than ever. High-quality, school-based civic learning opportunities, both in-person and online, build our collective capacity, with youth at the center, for relief, recovery, and reform in the difficult weeks, months, and years to follow.
Yours in civics,