Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Civics for All will be Coming to Seattle Schools

I got word from the human Energizer bunny, teacher Web Hutchins, that Seattle Schools has agreed to bring in the Civics for All initiative to SPS.  I am so happy this is happening for our district.  Here's how Web explains it:

Pretty much out of nowhere, Seattle Public Schools curriculum leaders formally recommended adoption and the school board authorized implementation of the bulk of the Civics for All Initiative!!!  
Judi Billings and I were sitting in on the school board Curriculum &Instruction meeting when Kathleen Vasquez, the district’s K-12 social studies curriculum coordinator, made the sweeping recommendation – Judi and I almost fell out of our chairs we were so surprised and elated!!! Ms. Vasquez is already brilliantly orchestrating the implementation. Mock elections will be optional this fall instead of required as schools work through planning, etc.

After 5 long years of lobbying, writing, and presenting, we got it done!!!
Special thanks go to Judi Billings, the CFA chair, and my biggest supporter & mentor through it all. There are far, far too many people to list here who stood up for civics in Seattle. Yet I must give special thanks also to Margit McGuire, Erin Jones, my neighbor Tomo, the school board, KCE, and all my students past and present who never failed to represent in testifying to the school board, meeting with superintendents (thanks Zenriquez!), and backing me up.

How to help Civics for All build strong foundations:

1) Encourage your local school leaders to OPT IN for mock elections this fall and

2) Talk up the initiative in your community, at your local school, and try to get involved – esp. in mock elections

3) Contact SPS if you’d like to make a donation to help fully fund the work. We are, of course, already under-budgeted and donations would be a great help.

Thanks to everyone who helped me out over the last 5 years – even if it was a simple “stick with it,” it helped me stay committed to finish the job.

“That the schools make worthy citizens is the most important responsibility placed on them.”    FDR

10 comments:

Catherine said...

It's about time - congrats Web!

blixa said...

This is frustrating. Once again teachers will be asked to write the lessons for the Fusion pages. SPS loves to add more to the plates of teachers without giving any concrete resources, such as actual curriculum materials and lesson plans.

Catherine said...

Bilxa - I believe that the curriculum and lesson plans are part of the grant money that's been made available.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

In looking over the curriculum for Civics for all - I find it to be a bit of a distraction. An amalgam of philosophy, civics and government with, as is often the case in the SPS curriculum, little emphasis on foundational learning. All the elements proposed in the curriculum are already present in the best teacher's classes in the SPS. By way of example, why would students participate in mock elections when they already have real elections for student government? This tendency to slather "new" areas of study on overworked teachers when existing material could simply be tweaked is an example of the inefficiency and ineffective administration. This program seems more aimed at making adults feel good rather than enriching students. I am sorry to be so harsh but I see this in so many areas of education and industry.

-SPS parent

Lynn said...

I have to agree. Would rather have more time spent on art, music, PE and recess.

Anonymous said...

If all a mock election involves is a vote then it would be similar to a student council election. But I assume they would also discuss the national issues being debated by the candidates and how our political system functions which would make the two very different.
-surprised

Anonymous said...

Another unfunded mandate that already has people begging for grant money and donations.

We already teach Civics and while I'm happy that somehow the district listened to someone at some point they sure as hell aren't listening to the teachers. There is so much more that needs to be happening such as buying materials for previous mandates or maybe spending time evaluating programs that this is another pile of stress. Oddly this comes out after the district had to own up to not doing much to meet goals...so an unwanted 'initiative' comes out of downtown to cover their own rears.

I agree with this.. hence once again the best of intentions..

- Observation

Anonymous said...

At least at Hale, they already do much of this. In 12th grade they take Government and as a part of that, they bring debates to the school from candidates that are running in various races. The students run the whole thing. They ask the questions. My kid has also registered to vote, campaigned for someone, gone to the caucus as well as other activities all part of their Government class. I suspect that the other high schools do the same.

HP

Watching said...

Here is the video:


http://www.seattlechannel.org/seattlespeaks?videoid=x63309