WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), and colleagues introduced legislation to expand access to civics education with a $1 billion investment across K-12 and higher education. The Civics Secures Democracy Act will expand educational programming in history and civics, with funding available for state education agencies, nonprofits, and institutions of higher education and research. Senators Angus King (I-ME), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) are also cosponsors.
“America’s history unites us as Americans. Civics education tells that story. As we seek to overcome our divides, telling this story is essential,” said Dr. Cassidy.
The Civics Secures Democracy Act helps support educational programs in civics and history by:
- Creating a Civics Secures Democracy Fund supported in the first instance using COVID relief funds for programs that have since expired, providing $1 billion annually for civics and history initiatives. These initiatives are broken out as:
- $585 million for state education agencies, which would be awarded by formula and passed on to districts to support civics and history education programs, especially with a lens to closing civics achievement gaps;
- $200 million for nonprofit organizations, which would be awarded competitively and used to develop and provide access to evidence-based civics and history curricula and programs;
- $150 million for institutions of higher education, which would be awarded competitively, used to support civics and history educator preparation and ongoing development;
- $50 million for researchers, which would be awarded competitively and used to assess and evaluate civics and history education programs and identify best instructional practices; and
- $15 million for a new Prince Hall Civics Fellowship program, which would diversify the civics and history education workforce by recognizing outstanding educators from underrepresented communities and providing a supplemental stipend in exchange for a five year teaching commitment.
- Incorporating the USA Civics Act and CIVICS Act, both bipartisan, updating existing K–12 and higher education civics grant programs.
- Encouraging the biennial administration of the civics and history NAEP in grades 4, 8, and 12.
- Strengthening and making the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation and James Madison Fellowship Program sustainable by recapitalizing their respective trusts and providing them broader investment authorities.
The Civics Secures Democracy Act would help states close key gaps in students’ history and civics educations. Only nine states and the District of Columbia require a full year of civics or government studies, and 10 states have no requirement at all. At the same time, American trust in public institutions is near all-time lows.