On Tuesday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas announced that 35 Arizona public schools are being recognized as 2016-17 Arizona Civic Engagement schools by the Arizona Department of Education Excellence in Civic Engagement Program. Now in its fifth year, the program recognizes and supports the important role schools play in ensuring that students are informed and engaged citizens.
“The most important work we conduct in education is preparing our students to become successful citizens and help perpetuate a prosperous republic,” Superintendent Douglas said. “There are few things I see as more important than helping them understand their civic rights, roles and responsibilities as American citizens. The schools being honored as part of the ECEP program are shining examples of the work being done in Arizona to prepare our students to actively participate in their communities and government when they leave the school system.”
As the ADI reported in 2014:
“The application process to be an Arizona Civic Engagement school is open to all K-12 public/charter schools. It is voluntary, meaning that schools don’t have to apply. The school applications, once submitted, are reviewed and scored by our committee made up of civic and education leaders. We do not evaluate an applicant based on its geographic location or the district in which it resides. We evaluate applicants solely on their understanding and implementation of the six proven practices in civic learning,” according to John Balentine, Professional Development Specialist and Manager-Civic Engagement, with the Career & Technical Education Unit of the Arizona Department of Education.
In other words, the distinction could be, and in some instances, probably is utterly meaningless.
The Excellence in Civic Engagement Program (ECEP) program was developed by the Annenberg Foundation. Six proven practices constitute a well-rounded and high quality civic learning experience, according to the program’s brochure:
1. Classroom Instruction: Schools should provide instruction in government, history, economics, law, and democracy.
2. Discussion of Current Events and Controversial Issues: Schools should incorporate discussion of current local, national, and international issues and events into the classroom, particularly those that young people view as important to their lives
3. Service-Learning: Schools should design and implement programs that provide students with the opportunity to apply what they learn through performing community service that is linked to the formal curriculum and classroom instruction.
4. Extracurricular Activities: Schools should offer opportunities for young people to get involved in their schools or communities outside of the classroom.
5. School Governance: Schools should encourage student participation in school governance.
6. Simulations of Democratic Processes: Schools should encourage students to participate in simulations of democratic processes and procedures.
Ensuring the proliferation of these practices requires a range of steps from education stakeholders at every level, but two strategies in particular stand out. Policymakers must ensure that civic learning is included alongside English, math, and science as a core subject, emphasized by standards and assessments at the federal, state, and local levels.
The group does not spell out the difference between teaching/discussion and indoctrination, which is normally defined as a teacher presenting issues in such a way that students are rewarded or punished for their viewpoints. Nor does it address the need for balanced or nonpartisan presentations by educators.
Safford IB Magnet School in the Tucson Unified School District, earned a School Of Merit level distinction for its civics learning. The IB curriculum for civics learning at Safford includes the concepts:
1st grade: Communities are organized in order to provide services for its people
2nd grade: Citizen beliefs may lead to action resulting in societal change
3rd grade: Citizens have rights, duties and responsibilities under the government in which they reside.
4th grade: Governments are developed resulting in structures that create law and order
5th grade: Citizens have responsibilities in creating systems to sustain order.
6th grade: An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.
6th grade students also make an inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution. -From Safford website
Public schools from around the state, both traditional and charter, applied for recognition as an Arizona Civic Engagement school with one of the following designations: School of Merit, School of Distinction or School of Excellence. Of those schools, 19 have been recognized as Schools of Merit, eight have been honored as Schools of Distinction and eight have received the most prestigious recognition as Schools of Excellence.
The schools will be formally recognized at an award ceremony at the 5th Annual Civic Learning Conference on March 2, 2018.
Excellence in Civic Engagement Program Award Recipients 2016-17
Schools of Merit
|Arizona College Preparatory, Oakland Campus||Chandler Unified School District|
|Benson High School||Benson Unified School District|
|Fremont Junior High School||Mesa Public Schools|
|Imagine Prep- Surprise||Charter|
|Kino Junior High School||Mesa Public Schools|
|Kyrene de los Lagos Dual Language Academy||Kyrene School District|
|Kyrene Traditional Academy – Sureno Campus||Kyrene School District|
|Mendoza Elementary||Mesa Public Schools|
|Mesa High School||Mesa Public Schools|
|Mountain View High School||Mesa Public Schools|
|Poston Junior High School||Mesa Public Schools|
|Sandra Day O’Connor High School||Deer Valley Unified School District|
|Sirrine Elementary School||Mesa Public Schools|
|Smith Junior High School||Mesa Public Schools|
|Summit Academy||Mesa Public Schools|
|Superstition High School||Mesa Public Schools|
|Taylor Junior High School||Mesa Public Schools|
|Tres Rios Service Academy||Littleton School District|
|West Wing School||Deer Valley Unified School District|
Schools of Distinction
|Carson Junior High||Mesa Public Schools|
|Chandler High School||Chandler Unified School District|
|Cocopah Middle School||Scottsdale Unified School District|
|Dobson High School||Mesa Public Schools|
|East Valley Academy||Mesa Public Schools|
|Franklin Junior High School||Mesa Public Schools|
|New School for the Arts and Academics||Charter|
|Skyline High School||Mesa Public Schools|
Schools of Excellence
|Arizona School for the Arts||Charter|
|Basha High School||Chandler Unified School District|
|Hamilton High School||Chandler Unified School District|
|Red Mountain High School||Mesa Public Schools|
|Rhodes Junior High School||Mesa Public Schools|
|Safford K-8 Magnet School||Tucson Unified School District|
|Shepherd Junior High School||Mesa Public Schools|
|Westwood High School||Mesa Public Schools|