Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced the launch of the Governor’s Civics Seal and mini-grant program to provide support and recognize schools and districts that prioritize teaching the nation’s history and civic values.
Lee made the statement through an announcement by the Tennessee Department of Education.
“I am proud to launch this initiative to inspire our Tennessee students to be civically engaged,” said Lee. “By providing strong civics programming in our schools, we are ensuring that future generations will build upon the incredible progress our state and country has made.”
Lee’s civics initiative made its way through the State House in March, The Tennessee Star reported.
Generally, the first co-prime sponsor of a bill in the House would be the Assistant Majority Leader, in this case, Representative Ron Gant (R-Rossville).
In the case of the Governor’s Civics Instructional Seal initiative, Assistant Leader Gant is carrying the legislation as HB 0944, which he said he was eager to do as he introduced the bill to the House Curriculum, Testing & Innovation Subcommittee.
Gant explained that the program is meant to highlight high quality civic education programs throughout the state and it will serve as a scoring apparatus to judge how well a school and district is teaching civics education, which he called “essential in preserving our constitutional democracy.”
Asking, rhetorically, why is this necessary, Gant responded, “Schools are insufficiently teaching students the basic principles of civics which is resulting in fewer and fewer individuals with basic institutional knowledge.”
Lee announced the Governor’s Civics Seal during his first State of the State address earlier this year, he said in his statement. He allocated $500,000 to support public schools and districts implementing high-quality civic education programs that result in readiness for college, career, and civic life. A portion of these funds will be used for the Governor’s Civics Seal mini-grants, which will be awarded to schools and districts across the state.
Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said, “Instilling strong civic values in our students is important to ensuring they are life-long learners and active citizens. I look forward to working with Governor Lee to award mini-grants to schools and districts that champion this initiative and provide opportunities for students to learn about our government.”
The Tennessee Department of Education will be using the funds in part to award mini-grants to schools and districts that provide programs, resources, and professional learning opportunities that emphasize civic learning. Schools and districts excelling at these initiatives will be able to earn the Governor’s Civics Seal in the 2020-21 school year.
At the school-level, the Governor’s Civics Seal mini-grants will be awarded to 20 rural and urban schools across Tennessee in the amount of $5,000 to $10,000. At the district-level, $15,000 will be awarded to 10 rural or urban schools across the state. The application window opens Friday, Oct. 25 and closes on Friday, Dec. 6.
The department will be offering an online training beginning Oct. 24 to provide more information to districts and schools on the Governor’s Civics Seal and associated mini-grants.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.