Secretary of State
Grayson Releases Report to Increase Civic Engagement and Literacy of Kentucky’s Citizens
REPORT CALLS FOR A NEW CIVICS PILOT COURSE, INCREASED PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, INCREASE IN THE SOCIAL STUDIES CATS BLUEPRINT, AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE KENTUCKY CENTER FOR CIVIC EXCELLENCE
(Frankfort, KY) On National Constitution Day, a day set aside by Congress to increase civics education in the classroom specifically pertaining to the United States Constitution, Secretary of State Trey Grayson announced that Kentucky needs to do more to increase the civic literacy and engagement of his citizens. As part of the announcement, he released a report, Rediscovering Democracy: An Agenda for Action, that calls upon the state to take tangible steps to increase civic literacy. The report, which details four principle recommendations and scores of additional recommendations, was developed from the work of the Kentucky Workgroup on Civic Literacy and its Civic Literacy Initiative of Kentucky (CLIK).
“Statistics and anecdotal evidence strongly suggest a crisis in terms of the civic engagement and literacy of our citizens,” stated Secretary of State Trey Grayson. “Over the last three years the Workgroup has labored diligently to determine a way to reverse this situation and thus build stronger communities. This report lays a clear path to achieving those goals.”
“Thirty years ago, a movement began in the United States to unveil the mystery of law and educate young people about their rights and responsibilities under the law. Kentucky's court system joined this effort nearly twenty years ago for the specific purpose of educating young people about the court system. So, when the Civic Literacy Initiative of Kentucky, chaired by Secretary Grayson, began in 2003, the third branch of government was a natural partner,” stated Deborah Williamson, Facilitator, Congressional Conference on Civic Education and General Manager, Judicial Branch Education. “This project is truly invigorating and we are delighted to serve as key partners. The results of this report will certainly further our efforts of the last twenty years.”
Chief Justice Joseph Lambert, Secretary Grayson (R-Boone County), Senator Jack Westwood (R-Crescent Springs), Representative Tanya Pullin (D-South Shore), the Kentucky Department of Education, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the University of Louisville, and Northern Kentucky University have all been a strong part of the workgroup that began this initiative by hosting a statewide summit in 2004. The summit determined that Kentucky needed to address a burgeoning civics crisis, and thus was created the CLIK, a multi-year effort that will determine a strategy for enhancing long-term civic engagement and civic literacy within the Commonwealth. The CLIK then hosted regional summits to determine regional issues and possible solutions.
The fruit of that labor is Rediscovering Democracy: An Agenda for Action, which calls upon Kentucky leaders to take four principle steps to increase the civic literacy and engagement of the Commonwealth’s citizens. These principle recommendations, together with over sixty additional recommendations, provide the blueprint for such a result.
The report calls for:
1). The establishment of the Kentucky Center for Civic Excellence in partnership with state universities or colleges. The Center will serve as a resource for enhancing and increasing civic literacy and civic engagement in the Commonwealth. It will reach out to community organizations, P-16 schools, and alternative learning programs by interacting with and educating students, teachers, administrators, state education leaders and community members, as well as collect data and provide research.
2). The implementation of a pilot study of a high school government and civics course that integrates both civic literacy and civic engagement at the local, state, and federal level. The course will be posted as an offering with Kentucky Virtual High School and implemented at approximately 10 regional pilot sites. An evaluation of the pilot will be conducted to measure the alignment of the course and its outcomes with recommendations provided by the National Council for Social Studies and the Civic Mission of Schools.
3). The creation of an annual teacher academy as described in KRS 156.095 in the area of government and civics.
4). The strengthening by five percent of the social studies CATS Blueprint in terms of the degree to which government and civics is assessed. A five percent increase in the Blueprint will assist in addressing national, state, and local needs to increase the knowledge base of our citizens. Increasing the Blueprint at each assessed grade level will allow for all social studies strands to continue being assessed, with a greater emphasis on government and civics. The proposed increase in government and civics places a greater weight at elementary and middle levels while also committing to a stronger requirement at the high school level to ensure students have a continued and deeper application of government and civic content.
The report’s sixty additional recommendations focus on four distinct areas: civic education resources, civic programs and curriculum, professional development, and standards and assessment. The recommendations range from such as ideas as the CLIK, Kentucky Department of Education, and KET partnering to create professional development videos to the CLIK targeting school boards and site-based decision making councils to add civics courses to high school curricula. Some recommendations, such as the recommendation for the Governor’s Scholars Program to develop a civics course, have already been achieved.
"Kentucky is the national leader in the movement to restore the civic mission of schools. All states are looking to Kentucky as a role model on how to work collaboratively to strengthen civic learning policies and practice. This is due to the hard work of the Kentucky Workgroup on Civic Literacy and Engagement,” stated Ted McConnell, Director of the Campaign to Improve Civic Education at the Center for Civic Education. “The national civic literacy and engagement community salutes Chief Justice Lambert, Secretary Grayson, Senator Westwood, Representative Pullin, the Administrative Office of Kentucky's Courts and the other members of the Workgroup for their leadership and vision."
# # #