5. Administrative Advantages
“Administrative Advantages”: District & Building Level
The Civics for All Proposal aligns almost seamlessly with the district’s strategic plan.
Seattle School District Strategic Plan: Goals for 2013-2018
1) Ensure Educational Excellence and Equity for Every Student
2) Improve Systems Districtwide to Support Academic Outcomes & Meet Students’ Needs
3) Strengthen School, Family and Community Engagement
Goal One: Civics for All (CFA) seeks to eliminate the civics gap that is plaguing Seattle youth of color and lower-incomes, just as it is across the country. In shrinking that gap, research proves that the achievement gap in academics is shrunk too. Equity is seved in multiple ways when civics lessons are infused into our schools.
Goal Two: CFA offers a seamless, K-12 approach to vertically aligning the curriculum district-wide with non-didactic best-practices that support increased student engagement and academic achievement while nurturing unique student civic ideals and student voice.
Goal Three: CFA’s bedrock principle, that democracy and voting are shared community concerns, rests on abundant research showing that the infusion of civics studies, and especially mock elections, offers administrators and schools alike an ideal tool to build connections between the classroom and the living room and to forge stronger school\ community bonds.
Civics for All Aligns with and Supports Nearly the Entire Bevy of District Initiatives:
- CFA supports and aligns with major district Teaching and Learning initiatives, including: 1. Curriculum maps; 2. Planning backwards; 3. Danielson; 4. Common Core; 5. DBQs
- CFA supports the MTSS (Multi-Tiered Systems of Support) approach by providing curricular frameworks which offer Tier 1, 2, and 3 students to find academic challenge and success within their zones of proximal development even when heterogeneously grouped (e.g. banners provide student access to conceptual frameworks that vertically scaffold diverse learners within classrooms and across grade-levels as well)
- CFA supports district wide work on attacking the Achievement Gap and building stronger Family and Community connections between schools and families, especially in South Seattle schools.
- CFA provides equity district-wide for all students at all schools in the arts of civics and citizenship.
- CFA emphasizes teaching “civics across the curriculum,” mirroring and extending prior district initiatives on teaching literacy and math across the curriculum.
- CFA builds bridges between teachers and academic disciplines, thereby cutting down the “silo effect” between classes and grades and increasing administrative influence and curricular control on a system-wide and city-wide basis.
- CFA aligns perfectly with and supports implementation of the Common Core (SS)for secondary social studies reading and writing expectations.
- CFA aligns with and supports the District’s Instructional Services Department current work on Curriculum Alignment in the social studies, as well as science and all core subjects.
- CFA facilitates work with the Common Core in non-social studies courses with ease.
- CFA promotes use of non-fiction civics texts which social studies starved elementary school teachers crave. This is an area of enormous opportunity: using more civics texts in alignment with the Common Core Standards at the elementary level could really boost student engagement and, consequently, achievement.
- CFA aligns with and steps ahead of the federal government’s likely adoption of civics requirements attached to Race to the Top funds.
- CFA will be a PR boon for the Seattle School District and will build good will city-wide — it has been absolutely embraced by the city of Seattle
- CFA helps the district respond to and frame problems as civic opportunities to grow and facilitates honest AND productive classroom, school-level and district level conversations about difficult topics in our schools and democracy — e.g. recent press releases about district problems with racially disproportionate discipline and with the race curriculum
- CFA helps fill the character education gap in our District’s strategic plan, towit: because CFA provides for recursive analysis of the civic virtues (like the Common Good, civic duty, tolerance, honesty, respect, responsibility, fairness, patriotism, etc.) via intentional use of Essential Civics Questions, students receive opportunities for growth in character and values development that is embedded in coursework and not simply forced upon them. Harvard University reports that a staggering “85% of parents want schools to teach values.”
- CFA provides a common instructional language for the entire school staff. Further, since civics is the language of values and ethics, CFA provides schools with new tools to encourage and enforce civility on campus.
- CFA views the inter-marrying of all disciplines with content, like civics, as essential to build the cognitive connectivity that marks life in the 21st century. This wholistic approach benefits students, teachers, and administrators alike because civics/politics connections are the building blocks for great citizenship, both in school and after graduation.
- CFA promotes increased participation, especially for at risk and/or minority pupils in student government and extra-curriculars; this can improve school climate, lower discipline problems, and increase academic achievement for all students.
- CFA facilitates productive scaffolding between disciplines and grades. The timeless tensions it addresses can be addressed at the most fundamental level by a first grader and at the deepest level by a 12th grader. This is crucial because the fluidity of civics/politics topics allows kids at all skill levels to achieve a certain amount of success throughout their academic career.
Alignment with National Assessments and Skill Set Emphases:
Civics for All is “Civics in the Core” because civics studies align so smoothly with the coming Common Core State Standards‘ emphasis on distilling argumentative claims from non-fiction texts.
Civics for All aligns directly with and will facilitate student success on the “New SAT,” which is slowly aligning with the Core and will emphasize America’s founding documents and current events analysis for the first time in the history of the test.
Civics for All cultivates “21st Century Skills,” Including: Creative and Critical Thinking, Communication Skills, Collaboration skills, Growth Mindset and Perseverance