Civic engagement opportunities are everywhere, and for everyone, you are already doing it. The NYS Education Department (NYSED) defines civic readiness as the ability to make a positive difference in the public life of our communities through the combination of civic knowledge, skills and actions, mindsets, and experiences. NYSED recognizes the importance of this for today’s students and has increased their focus on civic readiness.
Why is Civic Engagement Important?
Civic engagement is an important topic that is drawing attention at the national and state level. NYSED & the Board of Regents (BOR) have prioritized schools by creating the Seal of Civic Readiness graduation pathway for K-12 public schools. Dr. Betty Rosa, our NYS Commissioner of Education, shared in a recent press release, “Civics education increases the likelihood that students will participate in political and community activities. Dr. Rosa explains that, “when steeped in the fundamentals of the Board’s [Board of Regents] Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative, [Civic education] will provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to question and engage in civil discourse and offer sustainable solutions to issues that are important to them and their communities.”
In January 2020, The Civic Readiness Task Force, appointed by the Board of Regents, presented their recommendations on what the Seal of Civic Readiness graduation pathway should entail. In May of 2021, the Board of Regents implemented a pilot for schools to engage in this new Civic Readiness initiative. Over sixty schools are piloting this pathway and are figuring out how to roll out this initiative to their students.
Why Civic Engagement is Important: A Personal Story
My involvement with volunteerism started when my son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. I learned everything I could to help support my son on his life’s journey. I wanted to pay it forward by creating a networking group that offered a monthly meeting for families on the same journey. I found that helping the autism community brought families together to share resources; I also benefited by connecting with others and not being alone on this journey.
When intention and opportunity are given to students to engage in community service, they will always rise to the occasion. As schools endeavor to focus on civic education, a vital component of hands-on experience is essential for students. As schools are figuring out how best to recognize and capture student civic experiences, software platforms like Passport For Good can help bring more visibility to these efforts. Passport For Good’s platform is designed to capture activity both in and out of the classroom. Their platform captures community service, extracurriculars, career development, projects, activities, critical and emotional skills.
Civic Knowledge and Civic Participation
A civics graduation pathway is a pathway that all students can participate in and achieve. Students are already participating in activities that address challenges in their community and school community at an early age. Civic Education operates through two elements of learning, Civic Knowledge and Civic Participation. Through Civic Knowledge, students learn how to demonstrate respect for the rights of others, respectfully disagree with other viewpoints, and provide evidence for a counterargument. Civic Education can strengthen the relationships of schools and students with parents, families, civic leaders, and organizations, and community partners.
In addition to my work in the autism community, I have welcomed the opportunity to advocate for schools through a group called NYS Allies for Public Education. Our advocacy group comprises of parents and educators to help show that a student is more than a test score and why the focus should be on whole-child education. Advocacy groups such as the NYS for Allies Public Education show that making sure students have more time for arts education and other modalities will help students become college, career, and civic ready by the time they graduate high school.
Fuel Civic Engagement with Passport For Good
Passport For Good understands the importance of civic engagement and is the perfect fit for schools to celebrate whole child education. Schools need to encourage civic engagement and recognize students for their civic knowledge and participation. Creating the intention and an environment to facilitate this participation is critical and measuring it is an important feedback loop.
I will leave you with this, if you celebrate and measure students’ passion for helping their community, you will see that the happiness factor and motivation rise very quickly, resulting in better outcomes for all.
Find out if Passport For Good fits in your school’s budget!