submitted by Genie Massey
Since 1920, the League of Women Voters has been an activist, grassroots organization whose leaders believed that people should play a critical role in our democracy. The League of Women Voters believes in representative government and in the individual liberties established in the Constitutions of the United States and of Maryland. Sustaining our democratic form of government depends upon the informed and active participation of the people in government. The League has always engaged in and supported civic education as a key component of the democratic process.
Civic education is the lifelong process that helps people become active, responsible, and knowledgeable members of our communities. As the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future works to achieve high-quality and diverse teacher pipelines, college and career readiness, and more resources for students to be successful, the League sees civic education as a foundational philosophy underpinning successful public education.
The League of Women Voters of Maryland supports the inclusion of civics in the Maryland State Curriculum Frameworks for Social Studies for grades Kindergarten through 12th grades to promote civic service to prepare students, morally and intellectually, for the duties of citizenship. Civic learning should also be fostered across the curriculum. It is important for novice and veteran teachers in all subject areas to have access to high-quality resources, programs, and professional development to foster Maryland’s continued excellence in civic education.
Civic education occurs in many settings beyond the school day, such as in sports, volunteer organizations, houses of worship, political rallies and campaigns, and at the polling place on Election Day. The League endorses this broad definition of “civics” and are concerned about all influences on the civic development of children, youth, and even adults. We support opportunities for students to put learning into practice such as in service-learning experiences, extra-curricular activities, school and community engagement, and opportunities to participate in school governance. We support strengthening service and volunteer opportunities as a pathway to stronger communities, improved mental health, improved academic outcomes, and a healthier democracy as individuals work in groups to solve issues they care about.
LWVMD supports programs to encourage excellence in civic learning for all, practices of constitutional democracy, and individual agency which lead to active participation in our political system. Different communities and population groups face differing obstacles to meaningful civic engagement, such as transportation, language barriers, and cultural differences. We support civic education and service programs designed to reach all Maryland residents as equal partners in our communities.