Senate votes to require civics for high school grads, and create career/academic plans for all
STATE HOUSE –The Senate today passed two bills sponsored by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo to make civics education a graduation requirement for all high school students starting next year, and to require the creation of personal career and academic plans for every student starting at Grade 6.
The civics bill (2021-S 0076aa) is aimed at ensuring that all students understand the principals of democracy, how their government works, and the rights and duties of actively engaged citizenship.
“Solid civics education in public schools is absolutely critical to having an informed public,” said Senator Gallo (D-Cist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick). “Students are the next generation of voters. 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 would require that all high school students attending public school demonstrate proficiency in civics, commencing with the graduating class of 2023. The bill does not necessarily require that students take a separate civics course or civics exam, instead allowing individual school districts to determine how their students can demonstrate proficiency. Many aspects of civics are already integrated into other subjects’ curricula.
Senator Gallo, who is vice chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee and serves on the Joint Commission on Civics Education, was also the sponsor of the 2005 law that led to the development of a statewide civics curriculum and standards for grades K through 12.
Senator Gallo said, besides being necessary for future voters, civics gives kids tools they can put to good use right away.
“I’m so proud of the kids I’ve seen at the State House, speaking up for the environment, for social justice or for efforts to prevent violence. Young people do inspiring work when they know what they need to do to make their voices heard,” she said.
The bill, which now goes to the House of Representatives, is cosponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket), Sen. Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence), Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), Sen. Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln), Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick), Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) and Sen. James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton).
The second bill (2021-S 0285) would require the creation of an individual career and academic plan for every student in grades 6 through 12, beginning with those entering Grade 6 in the 2023-2024 academic year.
Under the bill, students and their families would work with school counselors, administrators, and teachers to develop the plan, which would identify their goals, explore academic and employment opportunities after high school, plan for securing financial aid for further education, with the ultimate goal of their entry into their chosen career.
Students would be required to update their plans annually in order to graduate from high school.
“Developing their own plan can help every student understand the connection between what they’re doing now and their future. This will help them focus their efforts and their time, and help schools focus their resources, on the work that will be most useful to them in achieving their goals in school and ultimately, in their lives,” said Senator Gallo.
The bill, which is cosponsored by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and Senator Seveney, now goes to the House.
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