Rhode Island Governor signs legislation requiring Civics Education in schools

Johnston classrooms well on their way to fulfilling requirement

By RORY SCHULER
Posted 9/24/21

Do Rhode Island students know enough about the American government and how it works on the local, state and federal level?

Probably not.

However, a newly signed piece of legislation aims to …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Rhode Island Governor signs legislation requiring Civics Education in schools

Johnston classrooms well on their way to fulfilling requirement

Posted

Do Rhode Island students know enough about the American government and how it works on the local, state and federal level?

Probably not.

However, a newly signed piece of legislation aims to change that, and Johnston schools are already on their way to providing civics education that will soon be required in the Ocean State.

“Civics education is critical in our schools,” said Johnston Schools Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLullo Jr. “Students need to know about our government. They need to know how laws form, voting rights, and how people gain access to the decision makers.”

Currently, Johnston schools offer a civics course in eighth grade at the middle school level, and also a course at the high school.

“I think the district is well positioned to meet the goal,” DiLullo said.

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee was joined by state Sen. Hanna Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) and state Rep. Brian Newberry (R-Dist. 48, North Smithfield, Burrillville) to ceremonially sign the bill into law earlier this week at Daniel D. Waterman Elementary School in Cranston.

The legislation “makes civics education proficiency a requirement for all public high school graduates,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“Strengthening civics education in our schools is crucial to creating a more engaged and informed citizenship and developing a strong generation of future leaders,” McKee said. “This legislation will help ensure that our graduates have the knowledge they need to both understand and participate in all levels of government.”

The legislation will take effect beginning with the class of 2023, this year’s junior class.

“Solid civics education in public schools is absolutely critical to having an informed public,” said Gallo, who serves as vice-chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, serves on the Joint Commission on Civics Education, and was the sponsor of the 2005 law that led to the development of a statewide civics curriculum and standards for grades K through 12, according to the governor’s office.

“Students are the next generation of voters,” Gallo said. “They need and deserve to graduate with a healthy knowledge of how they can create the changes they want to see in their community, their state and their country.”

The bill received bi-partisan support from Rhode Island state legislators.

“A thorough grounding in civics should be a cornerstone of every education consisting of two parts,” Newberry said. “First it should contain a deep understanding of the foundation of our nation’s government systems and structures, with neither their imperfections whitewashed nor their subtlety, genius and keen reflections of the limitations and foibles of human nature downplayed or diminished. Second, it should contain practical instruction in how government at all levels works, the interplay between those levels, the limitations on power and constructive ways in which to effect change in public policy.”

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here