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Reps. Blumenauer, Cole, Schrier, Moolenaar, Himes, and Stefanik Introduce Bill to Promote Civics Education

February 10, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Tom Cole (R-OK), Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA), John Moolenaar (R-MI), Jim Himes (D-CT) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) today introduced legislation to reauthorize and modernize a grant program under the Higher Education Act that focuses on American history and civics.

The USA Civics Act authorizes grants to college or university-nonprofit partnerships that promote the education of American political thought and history, as well as democracy and participation in civic and political life.

“An understanding of our political system is the cornerstone of a thriving American democracy,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “In such trying political times, this bipartisan legislation will renew our commitment to ensuring the next generation of American leaders are best prepared for the challenges of tomorrow.”

“In order to preserve America’s unique form of governance and encourage civic engagement, I believe we must train up our young citizens to appreciate and understand how our nation came to be a great Republic,” said Rep. Cole. “The best way to do that is through civics education. Indeed, when Americans are equipped with the fundamental knowledge of our government and know how to navigate our political system, they are much more likely to participate. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Understanding and Studying American Civics Act, which would prepare both primary and secondary educators to develop and teach curriculum that enriches civics knowledge and learning for generations to come.”

Rep. Kim Schrier, M.D. said, “Government should not be a spectator sport. Civics education prepares students to be informed and engaged citizens. Making sure it is available to every student will be critical to shaping the next generation’s leaders.”

“As Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address, ‘a government of, by and for the people shall not perish from the earth,” Rep. Moolenaar stated. “To fulfill his promise, our nation must do more to promote civic education and an understanding of how our republic works for the people.”

“A strong understanding of the foundations and mechanisms of our Democracy has never been more important,” said Rep. Himes. “Individuals in our society are bombarded by conflicting narratives, told the sky is red, and the earth is flat.  It’s only through robust civics education that young people can develop the tools they need to make sense of our history and be active participants in crafting a stronger future.”

“It’s critical that today’s students receive a proper civics education in order for them to become well-informed and engaged in our democratic process as adults,” said Rep. Stefanik. “I am proud to help lead this bipartisan legislation to support our teachers and strengthen civics education, as it is crucial to restoring the very principles our country was founded on, and to securing our way of life for future generations.”

“On the behalf of the Center for Civic Education I would like to express support for the USA Civics Act and commend Congressman Blumenauer and Congressman Cole for their long-standing support of civic education and this legislation,” said Charles N. Quigley, Executive Director of the Center for Civic Education. “It will provide much needed support for the enhancement of civic education in higher education. It will also meet the pressing need to give elementary and secondary teachers the support they need to provide their students sound instruction in the history and contemporary relevance of the U.S. Constitution and its impact on their everyday lives. There is a pressing need to foster enlightened and responsible participation in our political system and the best way to do this is through effective civic education.”

The grant money must be used to support programs or initiatives pursuing that work within those discipline areas. The modernized portion of the legislation ensures that researchers and educators funded through the grant have the freedom necessary to adequately study the academic discipline. It would also allow for grants to be used to partner with nonprofit or government programs, develop open education resources, or pursue other activities consistent with the purpose of improving civic education nationwide.