WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced landmark legislation to invest $1 billion annually in civics and history education from K-12 through higher education. The Educating for Democracy Act would create a variety of grants to states, non-profits, institutions of higher education, and civics education researchers to support and expand access to civics and history education in schools across the country. It would also strengthen policymakers’ understanding of young Americans’ achievement in civics education by increasing the frequency of and encouraging participation in the National Assessment of Education Progress exam. Companion legislation was introduced by U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) in the House.
“Civic engagement is crucial for the health of our democracy,” said Senator Coons. “With expanded civics education in K-12 and higher education, this bill will equip new generations of Americans with a deeper understanding of their responsibilities as citizens and how to exercise their cherished rights. I am proud to work with Senator Cornyn on this bipartisan effort to expand access to civics education and invest in the future of our democracy.”
“The United States continues to be a model for the world because we are taught from a young age the merits of democracy, our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the civic duties that are inherently part of being an American,” said Senator Cornyn. “This bill would help our schools inspire the next generation of public servants and teach all young Texans the value of freedom, and I’m glad to work with Sen. Coons on this bipartisan legislation.”
“Civic education is the cornerstone we need to rebuild the civic strength of our country,” Louise Dubé, the Executive Director of iCivics, which leads CivXNow, said.“We thank Senator Coons and Senator Cornyn for their leadership in introducing this bill, which makes a critical investment in civic education. The CivXNow coalition is excited to support their efforts.”
“The Educating for Democracy Act takes the necessary steps to bridge the divide in the United States and invest in the future of our democracy,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “If students of all ages are not given the information in their classrooms to actively participate in our democracy, we cannot expect them to stay engaged and informed as adults. Federal investments to expand civic education will help us build a nation adequately informed of our democratic principles, norms, and institutions in order to sustain our democracy. Thank you, Senators Coons and Cornyn for introducing this legislation in the Senate. I am proud to have introduced this bill in the House and to work across the aisle and across chambers to give the next generation the tools they need to carry out their civic responsibilities.”
“In order to preserve America’s unique form of governance, it is important that we prioritize access to civics and history education,” said Congressman Cole. “By equipping students with the fundamental knowledge of our democratic principles, we can encourage active citizen participation in our government the way our Founding Fathers intended for generations to come. As an original sponsor of this legislation in the House, I am proud to see the Senate introduce their own version of this important legislation.”
Research shows that students who receive quality civics education are more likely to vote, discuss politics at home, complete college, and develop skills that lead to employment. These students are also four times more likely to give back to their communities through volunteering and working on community issues and are more confident in their ability to speak publicly and communicate with their elected representatives.
A one-pager on the bill is available here.