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Maine - Center for Civic Education

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					                                              State of Maine
                      Report to the 2006 Congressional Conference on Civic Education

Congressional Conference Delegation Facilitator: Glenn Nerbak, Distinguished Educator, Maine
Department of Education (207-624-6721; Glenn.Nerbak@maine.gov)

Maine Citizenship Education Task Force Leadership (co-chairs): Angela Faherty, Deputy Commissioner,
Maine Department of Education; James Carignan, Chair, Maine State Board of Education

Staff: Kathryn Hunt and Dara McIntire, Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, University of Maine

Task Force / Delegation Membership: The 58-member Maine Citizenship Education Task Force involves
educators, school administrators, students and legislators, as well as representatives of State government, civic
and philanthropic organizations, higher education, law, and business.

History

In 2003-2004, the legislatively enacted Commission to Study the Scope and Quality of Citizenship Education in
Maine conducted a statewide survey of all schools, and subsequently issued a report calling for the
implementation of nine recommendations to strengthen citizenship education for all youth and young adults in
all schools, colleges and universities in Maine (see http://www.maine.gov/legis/opla/citedrpt.PDF).

The Study Commission called upon the Maine Department of Education to strengthen its focus on developing
civic participation skills in all young people, particularly through the integration of real-life learning
experiences into each of the core content areas of the Maine Learning Results. Additionally, it called for
enhanced teacher education and certification processes, the development of best-practice resources, and
improved civic learning opportunities in colleges and universities across Maine.

In May 2004, Governor Baldacci signed a legislative resolve to implement the Study Commission's
recommendations, thus establishing the Citizenenship Education Task Force.

With a $150,000 two-year grant from the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools (CMS), the Maine
Citizenship Education Task Force has focused its efforts in three broad areas: policy change; developing
resources and support systems for educators as well as school and community leaders; and “on-the-ground”
change efforts.

Major Accomplishments to Date

Policy Change

      Revised content standards under the Maine Learning Results that require demonstrations of student
       knowledge and civic participation skills through real-life, “authentic” learning experiences (to be
       forwarded to the Maine State Legislature for final approval in January 2007);
      Passage of L.D. 1511, “An Act Regarding the Budget Process for the Legislative Youth Advisory
       Council.” The law was passed in September 2005 and ensures ongoing staff support and funding for the
       Maine Legislative Youth Advisory Council.
      Passage of L.D. 640, “An Act to Reduce the Voting Age Qualifications for State Primary Elections for
       Voters Who Will Reach 18 Years of Age by the Time of the General Election.” The law took effect in
       March 2004. In May 2006, the Maine Citizenship Education Task Force, in partnership with the
       Secretary of State’s Office, waged a statewide campaign urging eligible 17-year-olds to vote on the
       primary ballot in June.
      Passage of LD 1686, “An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Political Caucuses and Committees.” The
       law was signed in June 2005 and enables eligible 17-year-olds to participate in party caucuses.

Resources and Support Systems

      Establishment of the Maine Citizenship Education Task Force Website—an online resource for
       educators, youth, and school and community leaders (see www.mecitizenshiped.org). The Website
       features:
           o Promising practices in civic education and civic engagement K-12 (organized by grade level and
               by CMS’ six promising approaches to civic learning);
           o Promising practices of civic engagement in higher education (organized by eight promising
               approaches);
           o A Community Toolkit containing ideas and resources for engaging youth in authentic decision-
               making within schools and communities;
           o Extensive resources for youth interested in civic and political engagement; and
           o News and updates from around the world.
      Creation of a Distinguished Educator position in the Maine Department of Education to support the
       integration of civic education and service learning in Maine schools. Among several key roles, this
       position is responsible for facilitating the development of a statewide Professional Development
       Network for Civic Learning and Engagement, as one of the successor entities to the Task Force on
       Citizenship Education, which ends its legislatively defined tenure in November 2006.

On-the-Ground Change

      Organization of a one-day conference, Educating for Democracy, in June 2006 focused on connecting
       higher education resources with K-12 for the purposes of advancing civic learning and engagement
       opportunities for all students.
      Launch of a multi-school-district reform effort in August 2006. Seven districts convened for a two-
       day retreat organized by the Task Force to better understand the links between civic learning and student
       performance, and to develop action plans for reform efforts across the grade spans.
      Partnership in the National Governors Association-administered, Gates-funded Maine Readiness for
       College, Career and Citizenship Campaign, which is a major statewide initiative to graduate all students
       college, career and citizenship ready. The Task Force has played a key role in integrating the promising
       approaches to civic learning and engagement in every aspect of the campaign.

Plans for the Coming Year

Currently Task Force members are laying the foundation for the successor entities necessary to continue work
in each of its three focal areas. Immediate priorities include: establishment of a statewide professional
development network to support civic learning and civic engagement opportunities in all schools; continued
support and expansion of the Task Force’s multi-district reform effort (the districts will reconvene in Summer
2007 to assess progress, new opportunities, and challenges to implementation); policy advocacy for passage in
January 2007 of the revised Maine Learning Results; and, full implementation of the Maine Readiness
Campaign for College, Career and Citizenship.

				
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