Civic engagement is good for students — and society

October 19, 2020
With the dual challenges of racism and COVID-19, our children are being called upon to be resilient, adaptable and empathetic. We need them to step up and be compassionate, civically minded and ethically responsible. Teachers expect students to demonstrate their digital literacy and communicate effectively across platforms. Parents expect them to be independent learners, self-directed, intellectually curious and resourceful. We all hope that they will exercise curiosity, creativity and critical thinking to identify and approach real world problems that just months ago were unanticipated and unpredictable. And now more than ever, we hope they maintain a healthy mind and body. All of these competencies (and more) result from educating the whole child. In that spirit, as a statewide working group of diverse education stakeholders with a mission to promote authentic college, career, and civic readiness assessment systems, or PACCCRAS, we ask for your support to re-elevate the civic mission of schools and support student preparation for civic life as part of that positive transformation.  A first step is to adopt the newly created State Seal of Civic Engagement, to recognize and nurture students and communities as insightful assets and allies in reimagining schooling. We request all district leaders to move forward with intentionality and purpose to channel the current disruptions to promote student agency, engaged learning, and civic action. Students have been at the forefront of activism, whether against school shootings, climate change, or police brutality, to effect positive change. Schools have the opportunity to nurture and support student motivations and actions to improve their own communities and make a positive impact in a democratic society by providing learning and experiences to practice applying civic skills and tools. 

Guest Column by the PACCCRAS Working Group

Through civic learning, students will gain guidance on how to differentiate truth from fiction and how to pivot for civic action, to pursue truth as a critical path to realizing our American ideals of equality and justice. Civic learning and engagement is needed for the good of your students, your district community, and society at large. The State Seal of Civic Engagement celebrates students and reaffirms their contributions to their community and to the common good. At a time of ambiguity and high needs, students can provide critical insight to inform and support meaningful teaching and learning in the new context of distance learning. Through virtual project-based learning, students can still access real-world learning and be of service to their communities while acting on their desire for positive change, as evidenced by these student collaborative projects. Opportunities for students to work together to do good can ground, extend, and accelerate a student’s academic and social emotional learning. We encourage you to support all your students to access the State Seal of Civic Engagement, approved by the California State Board on Education on Sept. 10, 2020. The California Department of Education has created a website of Civic Engagement Resources to support this work. In support of the State Seal, we have been developing the following:
  • State Seal of Civic Engagement Roadmap with four Guiding Principles,
  • Research Brief and Student Testimonials on the value of civic learning, aligned with the Guiding Principles,
  • FAQs, along with more articulation from service providers on the alignment/integration of civic learning with local initiatives and state priorities.
Our civic education experts would be pleased to work with you and your staff and we aim to continue collaborating with the state to develop resources to integrate civic learning, in order to deepen, extend, and bring more rigor and relevance to current local education priorities. Please visit our website for additional State Seal of Civic Engagement supporting resources and review the PACCCRAS State Seal of Civic Engagement Roadmap. Again, we encourage you to celebrate student contributions and community engagement to support the civic mission of schools by opting in to award the State Seal of Civic Engagement to students. The PACCCRAS working group (Promoting Authentic College, Career, and Civic Readiness Assessment Systems) is a coalition of districts, universities, and educational advocates, working together to build a network of early adopter districts to help create state capacity toward the seal with resources and best practices. For more information about the seal and PACCCRAS, contact Emily Young, Treedom.Co PACCCRAS member, 323-577-5595.

State Seal of Civic Engagement Early Adopter List Fresno Unified School District Sacramento County Office of Education Monterey County Office of Education  North Monterey County Unified School District  Gonzales Unified School District Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Salinas Union High School District  Santa Clara County Office of Education   Riverside County Office of Education  Riverside Unified School District Santa Cruz County Office of Education Simi Valley Unified School District Anaheim Union High School District

© 2020 Association of California School Administrators