Educating for Democracy
“The McCormick Foundation’s mission is to ignite the spirit of service and prepare, enable and inspire individuals and organizations to become more actively engaged in their communities,” said Dave Anderson, executive director, Freedom Museum. “Reincorporating civics into the curricula of our elementary and secondary schools is vital to advancing our mission and sustaining democracy in Illinois and beyond.”
Public schools were created in America with the primary purpose of preparing children to participate constructively as adult citizens in our democracy. Recent school reform efforts have focused primarily on improving student achievement in reading, math and science. The result of this emphasis is that the historical function of the American public school—to educate students for democratic participation and citizenship—has been pushed aside. Like millions of their peers across the country, most Illinois high school students lack sufficient formal instruction and opportunities for the development of civic literary that enables democratic engagement.
This conference, held February 8-10 at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois, is bringing together the public and private sectors--Illinois policymakers, state legislators, civic education leaders, researchers, teachers and students to create a civic blueprint for Illinois high schools so that no child is left behind in civic education. Confirmed attendees include Dr. Diana Hess, professor of education, University of Wisconsin; Dr. Joseph Kahne, professor of education, Mills College; Ted McConnell, executive director, National Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools; Jesse Ruiz, chairman, Illinois State Board of Education; and Judge Diane Wood, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
“Illinois has some outstanding examples of high schools committed to the civic mission of schools. Five high schools have already been recognized as Democracy Schools by the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition," said Carolyn Pereira, chair, Illinois Civic Mission Coalition and executive director, Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago. "These schools are determined to expand and improve their civic learning opportunities to all of their students. Our goal, along with the Freedom Museum, is to increase the number of Democracy Schools in Illinois, by working with the stakeholders to create policies so that all Illinois high schools will be 'Democracy Schools,'” Pereira said.