Illinois’ standard for civics education is poor, according to an organization that examined every state. Students in Illinois schools must take two years of social studies or civics classes, but there is no test or community service for high school graduation, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement. Center director Peter Levine says civics education is good in some local districts nevertheless.
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“So there’s actually probably quite a lot of good voluntary practice – either voluntary by teachers or by whole districts, including the biggest one in the state – but the state structure or framework is not particularly strong,” he said. Levine says there’s a strong civics education community in Illinois, but he’s unsure how hard they’re pushing the state Board of Education to enact a statewide standard.
Civics involves understanding how government works, who various elected officials are, and how citizens can engage in the process. He says some kids learn this if they’re interested, but Levine says it’s important to teach this in schools in order to reach everyone.