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Past Events

Educating for American Democracy National Forum

SXSWEDU 2021 - A New Roadmap for K-12 History and Civic Education

A viewpoint, demographically, and professionally diverse national network of 300+ scholars, educators and practitioners have created a roadmap for excellence in civic and history education for all K1-2 students. Funded by $1.1mm from NEH and US DoEd and led by ASU, Harvard, iCivics and Tufts, the Educating for American Democracy initiative gives national guidance on content and instructional strategies that are a starting point for the design of state standards, curricula, and resources.

This panel discusses why diversity of thought and background is so important in creating a modern history and civics that speaks to all students, the key approaches that the EAD adopts in its roadmap, the implementation plan, and how to build civic agency, give the full narrative of America’s plural and shared story, promote compromise, and cultivate civic honesty.

Speakers

  • Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University
  • Louise Dubé, Executive Director, iCivics
  • Paul Carrese, Director and Professor School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, Arizona State University

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June 28, 2021 | Seeking a Truce in the Civics & History Wars: Is 'Educating for American Democracy' the Answer?

Like the cicadas now infesting the mid-Atlantic, debates over how to present American history and civics to our children come around with striking regularity. In the early 1990s, the focus was on proposed national standards for U.S. history, which the Senate eventually condemned with a vote of 99–1. A few years ago, the dust-up was over the Advanced Placement U.S. History course. Today, it’s the backlash to the New York Times’ 1619 project, Donald Trump’s 1776 Commission, and the fight over “woke” history—all while current events (especially the January 6th insurrection) give many Americans angst about the future of democracy itself.

Stepping into the breach is a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and U.S. Department of Education, seeking to find a path forward: the Educating for American Democracy (EAD) Roadmap, released earlier this year with much fanfare. This initiative brought together over 300 academics, historians, educators, and other experts, individuals with very different perspectives and backgrounds, with the goal of issuing guidance for excellence in K–12 U.S. history and civics instruction, and doing so with consensus. It’s been widely praised, but also criticized.

The question is whether the document succeeds at its stated goal. Does it fairly represent a diversity of political points of view, while being intellectually rigorous, content rich and pedagogically workable? Or is bias apparent in the final product?

On Monday, June 28, Danielle Allen, political theorist at Harvard and one of the authors of the EAD Roadmap, and Mark Bauerlein, professor at Emory University and a critic of EAD, debated these important questions. The discussion was moderated by Fordham Institute president Michael J. Petrilli.

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May 14, 2021 | Panel Discussion: Commonwealth Club - Powerful Civic Education: It's Everyone's Responsibility

This program featured several leaders who specifically do not represent traditional social studies, civics or American history teachers about why they believe it is their responsibility to be part of the comprehensive civics education solution. Each has played a role in the development of the important EAD effort. We heard from the head of the organization that represents English teachers, the head of an organization that represents all rural schools, and a civics education specialist at a presidential library.

This program also helped the Club commemorate the one-year anniversary of the launch of its own civic education effort. In response to the same concerns that drove the development of EAD, The Commonwealth Club recognized that it, as a major civic forum, could play a more significant role in having a citizenry and electorate better appreciate the U.S. form of government and its civic ideals.

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April 26, 2021 | Aspen Group International - An Urgent Call to Action: Student Citizenship

A virtual seminar hosted by Aspen Group International on Coherent Governance issues, led by districts that are pioneering good work. Ace Parsi, Outreach & Dissemination Leader for Educating for American Democracy (EAD), presented the Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy.

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April 22, 2021 | Professional Development Series - Session 1: Motivating Student Agency and Exploring America’s Shared Story

This three workshop series, led by Natacha Scott, Director of Educator Engagement at iCivics, will introduce educators to the Educating for American Democracy (EAD) Roadmap by diving deeper into the design challenges, themes, and pedagogy principles. Each session will provide opportunities for participants to connect with peers, engage with the content of the Roadmap, and reflect on connections to their current instruction.

Our first EAD PD workshop discussed the first two design challenges focused on motivating student agency and exploring America’s shared story. This Session engaged participants in supporting their students to understand their roles as engaged citizens who also sustain civil disagreement and civic friendship. Additionally, participants began exploring how we can integrate the perspectives of Americans from diverse backgrounds into our narration of U.S. history.

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April 21, 2021 | Our Common Purpose Panel Discussion - Investing in Civic Education and Our Democracy

A healthy democracy requires citizens who have the skills and knowledge to participate fully in the democratic process. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Our Common Purpose report found that, even in today’s polarized political era, Americans across the country agree that the United States needs to invest in its civic education for young people. There is less agreement on what exactly that education should cover. A new report from Educating for American Democracy (EAD) brought together leaders from around the country and across the political spectrum to develop a roadmap toward a new, national commitment to civic education.

Please join representatives from the American Academy and Educating for American Democracy for a critical conversation with students, educators, and scholars about the role of civic education in fostering a new generation of empowered citizens committed to forging a vibrant democracy.

This program will spotlight the recommendation to invest in civic education from the Academy report, Our Common Purpose: Reinventing Democracy for the 21st Century, as well as the EAD’s report, Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy.

April 19, 2021 | National Council of Teachers of English Leadership and Advocacy Summit - Civic Literacy Chat

NCTE’s Annual Leadership and Advocacy Summit provides an opportunity to learn with prominent thought leaders about pressing issues in literacy education. This year’s Summit included a Civic Literacy Chat with Kimberly Eckert, Director, Educator Development, Louisiana Department of Education and Emma Humphries, Chief Education Officer, iCivics discussing the Educating for American Democracy initiative.

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April 12, 2021 | #sschat Twitter Chat - Navigating History and Civics with the #EADRoadmap

The Educating for American Democracy team hosted #sschat, social studies Twitter chat to discuss navigating the teaching of history and civics with the EAD Roadmap. Explore the summary of the Twitter chat.

April 7, 2021 | National Association of Counties - Educating for American Democracy with iCivics

The National Association of Counties and iCivics discussed how county leaders can support civic education on a local level and empower, educate and engage. This webinar focused on resources for counties, junior and senior high school curricula, activities for elementary students, and online educational games.

Panelists:

  • Emma Humphries, Chief Education Officer and CivXNow Deputy Director, iCivics
  • Natacha Scott, Director of Educator Engagement, iCivics

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April 1, 2021 | NCSS Panel Discussion and Member Town Hall - Educating for American Democracy

Toxic civic dialogue? Insurrection? Decline of democracy? America needs quality civic and history education more than ever. NCSS has been a lead supporter and partner in the development of Educating for American Democracy, an initiative that promises a greater emphasis on civic and history education that is powerful, interdisciplinary, and inquiry-based. Moderated by NCSS President, Stefanie Wagner, this NCSS in a virtual Town Hall presented the EAD initiative and discussed actions needed to make the promise of Educating for American Democracy a reality for all learners.

Panelists discussed:

  • What is Educating for American Democracy (EAD)?
  • What are the opportunities and considerations for educators as they work to implement the Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy?
  • What are the civil rights implications of this initiative to promote equity and inclusion?

Breakout topics and questions included:

  • What are potential roadblocks and challenges in implementing EAD and how can we overcome them?
  • What other stakeholders do we need to engage to make the promise of Educating for American Democracy a reality?
  • What supports ensure this is a true civil rights initiative?
  • Who feels this fits into their existing work and would like to connect to collaborate on launching this effort in the 2021-22 school year?

Panelists:

Dr. Danielle Allen, Principal Investigator and a lead author of the Educating for American Democracy Report; Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University

Dr. David Bosso, 2012 Connecticut Teacher of the Year | National Teachers Hall of Fame, Class of 2019

Dr. Lynn Jennings, Senior Director of State and National Partnerships at Education Trust

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March 23, 2021 | Share My Lesson's Virtual Conference Keynote - Danielle Allen Shares the Roadmap For Excellence In History And Civics For All Learners

Dr. Danielle Allen, Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, joined Share My Lesson to discuss the urgent need to prioritize history and civics, introduce Educating for American Democracy (EAD) initiative and the EAD Roadmap, and discussed the various ways in which educators can get involved.

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March 25, 2021 | Panel Discussion: Creating an Inclusive Civic and History Education for All

Educating young people to take active, constructive roles in our democracy is important for all learners. It is particularly so for young people with learning and attention issues and other disabilities who often find themselves marginalized in decisions that affect them. This is why the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) and Emerging America are proud partners of the Educating for American Democracy (EAD) initiative, an important new movement to reprioritize the importance of history and civics learning within K-12 education. Come learn about this initiative, the changes it represents for all learners, the ways it can be leveraged to develop student self-advocacy and self-determination, and how you can join this ground-breaking effort.

The event was moderated by LDA Executive Director, Cindy Cipoletti and feature the following panelists:

  • Ace Parsi, formerly Director of Innovation at the National Center for Learning Disabilities and presently the outreach and dissemination lead for the EAD initiative
  • Kimberly Eckert, 2018 Louisiana Teacher of the Year
  • Rich Cairn, Director of Emerging America

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March 5, 2021 | Panel Discussion: Commonwealth Club Educating for American Democracy

Join a conversation on the Educating for American Democracy initiative moderated by Emma Humphries, Chief Education Officer and Deputy Director of CivXNow at iCivics with panelists Paul Carrese, Founding Director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University, Michelle Herczog, Coordinator III of History-Social Science at the Los Angeles County Office of Education, and Kent McGuire, Program Director of Eduction at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, The Commonwealth Club launched its own civics education effort, Creating Citizens, with founding support from the Koret Foundation. This program is part of that growing effort.

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We the People

This theme explores the idea of “the people” as a political concept–not just a group of people who share a landscape but a group of people who share political ideals and institutions.

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Institutional & Social Transformation

This theme explores how social arrangements and conflicts have combined with political institutions to shape American life from the earliest colonial period to the present, investigates which moments of change have most defined the country, and builds understanding of how American political institutions and society changes.

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Contemporary Debates & Possibilities

This theme explores the contemporary terrain of civic participation and civic agency, investigating how historical narratives shape current political arguments, how values and information shape policy arguments, and how the American people continues to renew or remake itself in pursuit of fulfillment of the promise of constitutional democracy.

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Civic Participation

This theme explores the relationship between self-government and civic participation, drawing on the discipline of history to explore how citizens’ active engagement has mattered for American society and on the discipline of civics to explore the principles, values, habits, and skills that support productive engagement in a healthy, resilient constitutional democracy. This theme focuses attention on the overarching goal of engaging young people as civic participants and preparing them to assume that role successfully.

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Our Changing landscapes

This theme begins from the recognition that American civic experience is tied to a particular place, and explores the history of how the United States has come to develop the physical and geographical shape it has, the complex experiences of harm and benefit which that history has delivered to different portions of the American population, and the civics questions of how political communities form in the first place, become connected to specific places, and develop membership rules. The theme also takes up the question of our contemporary responsibility to the natural world.

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A New Government & Constitution

This theme explores the institutional history of the United States as well as the theoretical underpinnings of constitutional design.

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A People in the World

This theme explores the place of the U.S. and the American people in a global context, investigating key historical events in international affairs,and building understanding of the principles, values, and laws at stake in debates about America’s role in the world.

Read more about the theme in:

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The Seven Themes

The Seven Themes provide the organizational  framework for the Roadmap. They map out the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that students should be able to explore in order to be engaged in informed, authentic, and healthy civic participation. Importantly, they are neither standards nor curriculum, but rather a starting point for the design of standards, curricula, resources, and lessons. 

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Driving questions provide a glimpse into the types of inquiries that teachers can write and develop in support of in-depth civic learning. Think of them as a  starting point in your curricular design.

Learn more about inquiry-based learning in  the Pedagogy Companion.

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Sample guiding questions are designed to foster classroom discussion, and can be starting points for one or multiple lessons. It is important to note that the sample guiding questions provided in the Roadmap are NOT an exhaustive list of questions. There are many other great topics and questions that can be explored.

Learn more about inquiry-based learning in the Pedagogy Companion.

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The Seven Themes

The Seven Themes provide the organizational  framework for the Roadmap. They map out the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that students should be able to explore in order to be engaged in informed, authentic, and healthy civic participation. Importantly, they are neither standards nor curriculum, but rather a starting point for the design of standards, curricula, resources, and lessons. 

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The Five Design Challenges

America’s constitutional politics are rife with tensions and complexities. Our Design Challenges, which are arranged alongside our Themes, identify and clarify the most significant tensions that writers of standards, curricula, texts, lessons, and assessments will grapple with. In proactively recognizing and acknowledging these challenges, educators will help students better understand the complicated issues that arise in American history and civics.

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Motivating Agency, Sustaining the Republic

  • How can we help students understand the full context for their roles as civic participants without creating paralysis or a sense of the insignificance of their own agency in relation to the magnitude of our society, the globe, and shared challenges?
  • How can we help students become engaged citizens who also sustain civil disagreement, civic friendship, and thus American constitutional democracy?
  • How can we help students pursue civic action that is authentic, responsible, and informed?
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America’s Plural Yet Shared Story

  • How can we integrate the perspectives of Americans from all different backgrounds when narrating a history of the U.S. and explicating the content of the philosophical foundations of American constitutional democracy?
  • How can we do so consistently across all historical periods and conceptual content?
  • How can this more plural and more complete story of our history and foundations also be a common story, the shared inheritance of all Americans?
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Simultaneously Celebrating & Critiquing Compromise

  • How do we simultaneously teach the value and the danger of compromise for a free, diverse, and self-governing people?
  • How do we help students make sense of the paradox that Americans continuously disagree about the ideal shape of self-government but also agree to preserve shared institutions?
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Civic Honesty, Reflective Patriotism

  • How can we offer an account of U.S. constitutional democracy that is simultaneously honest about the wrongs of the past without falling into cynicism, and appreciative of the founding of the United States without tipping into adulation?
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Balancing the Concrete & the Abstract

  • How can we support instructors in helping students move between concrete, narrative, and chronological learning and thematic and abstract or conceptual learning?
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Each theme is supported by key concepts that map out the knowledge, skills, and dispositions students should be able to explore in order to be engaged in informed, authentic, and healthy civic participation. They are vertically spiraled and developed to apply to K—5 and 6—12. Importantly, they are not standards, but rather offer a vision for the integration of history and civics throughout grades K—12.

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Helping Students Participate

  • How can I learn to understand my role as a citizen even if I’m not old enough to take part in government? How can I get excited to solve challenges that seem too big to fix?
  • How can I learn how to work together with people whose opinions are different from my own?
  • How can I be inspired to want to take civic actions on my own?
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America’s Shared Story

  • How can I learn about the role of my culture and other cultures in American history?
  • How can I see that America’s story is shared by all?
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Thinking About Compromise

  • How can teachers teach the good and bad sides of compromise?
  • How can I make sense of Americans who believe in one government but disagree about what it should do?
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Honest Patriotism

  • How can I learn an honest story about America that admits failure and celebrates praise?
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Balancing Time & Theme

  • How can teachers help me connect historical events over time and themes?
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The Six Pedagogical Principles

 EAD teacher draws on six pedagogical principles that are connected sequentially.

Six Core Pedagogical Principles are part of our Pedagogy Companion. The Pedagogical Principles are designed to focus educators’ effort on techniques that best support the learning and development of student agency required of history and civic education.

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This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

EAD teachers commit to learn about and teach full and multifaceted historical and civic narratives. They appreciate student diversity and assume all students’ capacity for learning complex and rigorous content. EAD teachers focus on inclusion and equity in both content and approach as they spiral instruction across grade bands, increasing complexity and depth about relevant history and contemporary issues.

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This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Growth Mindset and Capacity Building

EAD teachers have a growth mindset for themselves and their students, meaning that they engage in continuous self-reflection and cultivate self-knowledge. They learn and adopt content as well as practices that help all learners of diverse backgrounds reach excellence. EAD teachers need continuous and rigorous professional development (PD) and access to professional learning communities (PLCs) that offer peer support and mentoring opportunities, especially about content, pedagogical approaches, and instruction-embedded assessments.

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This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Building an EAD-Ready Classroom and School

EAD teachers cultivate and sustain a learning environment by partnering with administrators, students, and families to conduct deep inquiry about the multifaceted stories of American constitutional democracy. They set expectations that all students know they belong and contribute to the classroom community. Students establish ownership and responsibility for their learning through mutual respect and an inclusive culture that enables students to engage courageously in rigorous discussion.

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This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Inquiry as the Primary Mode for Learning

EAD teachers not only use the EAD Roadmap inquiry prompts as entry points to teaching full and complex content, but also cultivate students’ capacity to develop their own deep and critical inquiries about American history, civic life, and their identities and communities. They embrace these rigorous inquiries as a way to advance students’ historical and civic knowledge, and to connect that knowledge to themselves and their communities. They also help students cultivate empathy across differences and inquisitiveness to ask difficult questions, which are core to historical understanding and constructive civic participation.

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This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Practice of Constitutional Democracy and Student Agency

EAD teachers use their content knowledge and classroom leadership to model our constitutional principle of “We the People” through democratic practices and promoting civic responsibilities, civil rights, and civic friendship in their classrooms. EAD teachers deepen students’ grasp of content and concepts by creating student opportunities to engage with real-world events and problem-solving about issues in their communities by taking informed action to create a more perfect union.

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This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Assess, Reflect, and Improve

EAD teachers use assessments as a tool to ensure all students understand civics content and concepts and apply civics skills and agency. Students have the opportunity to reflect on their learning and give feedback to their teachers in higher-order thinking exercises that enhance as well as measure learning. EAD teachers analyze and utilize feedback and assessment for self-reflection and improving instruction.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:
EAD teachers commit to learn about and teach full and multifaceted historical and civic narratives. They appreciate student diversity and assume all students’ capacity for learning complex and rigorous content. EAD teachers focus on inclusion and equity in both content and approach as they spiral instruction across grade bands, increasing complexity and depth about relevant history and contemporary issues.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Growth Mindset and Capacity Building

EAD teachers have a growth mindset for themselves and their students, meaning that they engage in continuous self-reflection and cultivate self-knowledge. They learn and adopt content as well as practices that help all learners of diverse backgrounds reach excellence. EAD teachers need continuous and rigorous professional development (PD) and access to professional learning communities (PLCs) that offer peer support and mentoring opportunities, especially about content, pedagogical approaches, and instruction-embedded assessments.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Building an EAD-Ready Classroom and School

EAD teachers cultivate and sustain a learning environment by partnering with administrators, students, and families to conduct deep inquiry about the multifaceted stories of American constitutional democracy. They set expectations that all students know they belong and contribute to the classroom community. Students establish ownership and responsibility for their learning through mutual respect and an inclusive culture that enables students to engage courageously in rigorous discussion.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Inquiry as the Primary Mode for Learning

EAD teachers not only use the EAD Roadmap inquiry prompts as entry points to teaching full and complex content, but also cultivate students’ capacity to develop their own deep and critical inquiries about American history, civic life, and their identities and communities. They embrace these rigorous inquiries as a way to advance students’ historical and civic knowledge, and to connect that knowledge to themselves and their communities. They also help students cultivate empathy across differences and inquisitiveness to ask difficult questions, which are core to historical understanding and constructive civic participation.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Practice of Constitutional Democracy and Student Agency

EAD teachers use their content knowledge and classroom leadership to model our constitutional principle of “We the People” through democratic practices and promoting civic responsibilities, civil rights, and civic friendship in their classrooms. EAD teachers deepen students’ grasp of content and concepts by creating student opportunities to engage with real-world events and problem-solving about issues in their communities by taking informed action to create a more perfect union.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Assess, Reflect, and Improve

EAD teachers use assessments as a tool to ensure all students understand civics content and concepts and apply civics skills and agency. Students have the opportunity to reflect on their learning and give feedback to their teachers in higher-order thinking exercises that enhance as well as measure learning. EAD teachers analyze and utilize feedback and assessment for self-reflection and improving instruction.