State Convention Civics Education Workshop

LWV 2017 Florida Convention

Civics Education Workshop Summary

June 10th 7:30-8:30 am

Submitted by Nikki Descoteaux

Speakers

PBC Chair Civics Education, Christene Campbell-Gabor and intern Faith Maniti

Visuals/Tools

Power point, Citizenship Flash cards, handouts, Magruder’s US Government textbook

Notes

  • Approximately 25 attendees
  • Interest is high, currently 42 members on the PBC Civics Education Committee which started in December 2016.
  • PBC Civics Education Committee Mission: To support the LWVPBC to meet its mission and vision by providing reliable information on elections and public policy issues to schools and a diverse PBC population using innovative educational approaches.
  • Civics is currently taught in Florida in grades 7 and 11
  • 115th Florida House Representative (Miami) Michael Bileca wants civics education in grades K through 12. Christene supports this plan, plus a university credit course. She will be meeting with him this summer along with Karen Wilkerson and Faith Maniti.
  • Working with other groups on the issue is critical. For example, the League is working with the Florida Bar Association, the PBC School Board, NCJW and others.
  • Natural born citizens don’t usually know as much about civics as naturalized citizens.
  • Attendees enjoyed answering civics questions (from cards used by applicants for U.S. citizenship). They did well.

Discussion

  • For whom is civics education appropriate: students, senior citizens, new citizens, under represented populations and all citizens who need or want to learn more about their government and their role in democracy
  • Ways PBC League has been involved:
    • National History Day (state-sponsored).
    • Government Bee (PBC); in 2017 10 schools participated.
    • Electoral College Contest for grade 12; purpose-to get these students involved.
    • Project Citizen State Finals; undertaken with Florida Bar Association
    • Constitutional Revision Commission; Christene spoke at the Boca Raton hearing and asked the Commission members to put Civics into the school curriculum.
    • Speaker’s Bureau presentations within schools and organizations.
    • Preparing civics-themed mini crossword puzzles. Free sites on the WEB to do the puzzle with the input of your information. Will try to have the students develop the crossword puzzles.
  • Suggestions for League Civics Education Committees:
    • Get younger Leaguers involved by alternately the meetings – day/ evening.
    • Make a contact with your local School Board.
    • PBC has one who is joined the League.
    • If you want to establish contact with the local School Board, ask your Observer Corps representative for a name and link.
    • Find out if there is a Social Studies Coordinator in your district and work with that person.

Suggestions from attendees

  • contact the Bar Association and make law school contacts. Suggested Florida law-related contact: Annette Pitts, executive director of The Florida Law Related Education Association (FLREA), (850) 386-8223
  • checkout Florida-held Model United Nations and encourage local school participation; some may have a Presidential Campaign every 4 years.
  • Support the Congressional Art Competition: some Florida U.S. Representatives participate and encourage others to do so; create a civics theme for the student artwork.
  • Let Rep. Bilecki know that we don’t want a textbook for Civics Education, otherwise he will connect with publishers.
  • Use Improv groups to teach students how to speak to legislators, how to advocate, etc.
  • Civics Classes for Senior Citizens in Gainesville, given by Dr. Donna Waller. Lots of attendees.
  • Polk County sponsored voter registration studio video project in the local high school, with cash prizes offered
  • one attendee spoke at elementary schools wearing a suffragette costume
  • Seminole League: Girls and Government program. Reaches out to government teachers. One teacher had her students participate in the Presidential Campaign of their choice.
  • Start an internship program with a civics theme. Incorporate it into the community service obligation. Be sure to publicize the internships, because often schools don’t know about them.
  • Apply for grants
  • Meet with student government leaders
  • Make sure that civics-oriented school activities are on the School Board website and calendar
  • Develop a contest involving legislators and government people, so that they learn from the students.
  • Have students develop theater skits with history/civics themes.
  • Watch the movie 1776, powerful and accurate.
  • Use Town Halls and conference calls (Town Hall Project) to teach how to contact legislators, etc.
  • Do information in a fun way using multiple senses (auditory, visual, etc.) since people learn in different ways
  • Approach ESL classes to reach those who didn’t vote. Rationale: those who vote get more services.
  • Reach out to people with disabilities.
  • Hillsborough County prepared a 20-minute power point aimed at high school and college. Theme: get out the vote. It can be found under Tools on the Florida LWV site.
  • Address issues that affect youth.
  • Work together with other Leagues to provide a consistent message and to develop tools that are proven to work
  • Contact Christene via email to provide her with what you are doing in your chapter. She will create a table to share the information with all attendees and include related websites.