Minnesota Civics Education Coalition - Learning Law and Democracy

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund
Learning Law and Democracy
Recipient Type
Non-Profit Business/Entity
Start Date
January 2012
End Date
December 2012
Activity Type
Counties Affected
Project Overview

Learning Law and Democracy Foundation will strengthen learning about the Minnesota constitution and government, create a civic self-assessment instrument for Minnesota schools, convene a civic education provider summit, enhance the teachingcivics.org website, expand professional development opportunities, and develop new lessons on Minnesota state and local government.

About the Issue

Minnesotans have been the beneficiaries of a robust civic society from those who came before us. Indeed, we proudly enjoy a national reputation for civic engagement. Modern commitment to that civic culture is weakening. The Minnesota Civic Education Coalition is concerned about several threats that point to the erosion of Minnesota’s civic culture and the health of the State:
- Growing lack of civility in political culture
- Lack of discernment in media consumption
- Emphasis on language arts, math and science education have crowded out civic education
Healthy civic culture is a heritage of ordinary citizens being intelligently involved in the decision-making process of communities and government at all levels. It is essential that Minnesotans supply our democracy with essential ingredients for success.

Project Details

Celebrate Minnesota Day: Expand student learning about Minnesota Constitution and government through an expanded statewide Minnesota Project Citizen Program on May 11 and a program at the Minnesota History Center on May 12 which will enhance the civic education component of the May exhibition of the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions with a simulated Supreme Court hearing at the May 12

Foundation of our Nation Family Day: Students participating in Minnesota Project Citizen will learn to research public problems in their schools and communities, gather and evaluate data and possible solutions, analyze constitutional questions, and develop action plans. They will present their work in the State Capitol Rotunda where judging panels provide feedback. Students representing underrepresented communities will be recruited. Partners include: Minnesota Secretary of State, Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives, Minnesota History Center.

Minnesota Project Citizen: 280 middle and high school students will learn how democracy and public policy works in Minnesota..

Foundation of our Nation Family Day: This partnership with Minnesota History Center will result in 50 students deepening their understanding of an important constitutional issue and Supreme Court Procedure through participation in a simulated Supreme Court hearing. This public presentation will also teach History Center guests about the Constitutional issues and judicial process.

Minnesota We the People: Expand student understanding of the Minnesota Constitution through a redesigned We the People program that instructs students on the Minnesota and U.S. Constitutions, addressing new Social Studies Standards on the Minnesota Constitution and Minnesota issues. Program will be expanded to include a pilot program with Middle School students.

Civic Self-Assessment Instrument for Minnesota Schools: This initiative will create a comprehensive assessment tool that will help school administrators, curriculum directors, teachers, and community leaders assess how well their schools and districts are performing in terms of civic knowledge and skills and the civic dispositions that students are developing. The Civics Self-Assessment items can be used in plans for improvement and program evaluation, as indicators in strategic plans, or to address policymakers’ requests for accountability. By evaluating a school’s success in providing effective civic education opportunities for students and
comparing results across schools and districts, civic education will be improved. A “civic education report card” will stimulate meaningful changes in civics and government classroom instruction, expand student opportunities to develop skills and critical knowledge, and build student capacity and commitment to be engaged.

The Minnesota Civic Education Coalition will organize and convene a second Minnesota Civic Summit -- geared primarily toward program practitioners -- as a way to connect people/organizations and build cooperation toward growing civic literacy in Minnesota.

Teachingcivics.org Curriculum Connections project will enhance the value of the 300 plus (and growing) K-12 civics and government lessons available on the new site supported in part by a Legacy Grant (2009-2011) with the capacity to match the content being taught to content required by Social Studies standards. The ability to click on a concept in the standards (such as federalism) and connect to a variety of age appropriate, interesting, and effective lessons vetted for accuracy and non-partisanship that will facilitate
instructional improvement. This project is a cost effective way to provide instructional materials, reducing the amount of teacher time spent searching for appropriate lessons. The website allows for teacher comments which increase lesson effectiveness. Use of Teachingcivics.org will be promoted to classroom teachers, homeschooled students, afterschool programs, and others.

Learning Law and Democracy Foundation will sponsor three workshops designed to increase teacher content knowledge in the Minnesota Constitution and government; provide training in new curriculum materials, increase teacher-to-teacher connections and support; introduce the Civics Self-Assessment tool, new lessons, and standards connection capacity on the website.

20 new lessons will be added to the online collection on Teachingcivics.org website for use in teaching Minnesota state and local government (including the Minnesota Constitution).

Legal Citation / Subdivision
Minnesota Law 2011 (Special Session), Chp. 6, Art. 4, Sec. 2, Subd. 8
Appropriation Language

Civics Education. $250,000 the first year and $250,000 the second year are for a competitive Arts and Cultural Heritage Grants Program-Civics Education. The commissioner shall award grants to entities that conduct civics education programs for the civic and cultural development of Minnesota youth.

2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

* 200 students will develop a deeper understanding of constitutional issues and appreciation for our constitutional system of government and will build civic participation skills
* 30 Schools will voluntarily assess their civic education health using the Civic Self Assessment will develop plans for improving civic education
* Use of Civic Self Assessment will grow and results will inform creation of a statewide plan for civic education improvement.
* Minnesota Civic Education partners will convene to learn about civic report card
* Participants will commit to an activity that supports civic education goals developed by Coalition
* 30 critical concepts required to be taught in civics and government instruction will be linked to high quality lessons
* 90 teachers will increase their capacity to provide improved civics and government instruction
* 20 new lessons on target topics will be available for improved civics and government instruction

Measurable Outcome(s)

• Celebrated Minnesota Day: Project Citizen with 184 students (32 public problem solving projects) evaluated and displayed at the State Capitol in honor of Minnesota Day. 18 volunteer judges evaluated and provided students with feedback. Students increased their civic knowledge and skills significantly.
• Enhanced Minnesota History Center U.S. Constitution Exhibit with Student Activity "Constitution Smackdown" in which 23 students presented oral arguments on Minnesota Constitution Issues.
• Deepened student knowledge of the Minnesota Constitution by adding Minnesota related questions to the We the People: the Citizen and the Constitution competitive hearings at the State Capitol on Dec. 6. 104 students competed to represent Minnesota in the national We the People Competition.
• Created a Civic Education Self-Assessment Instrument for Minnesota Schools, version completed and piloted, being tested by participants from the Civic Education Provider Summit and teachers who attended professional development opportunities.
• Convened day-long Civic Education Provider Summit on November 14 at the Minnesota Humanities Center with 25 participants, representing civic education providers who are directly involved in civic education programs. Participants formed a network that will meet quarterly to support collaboration.
• Teachers received training in new curriculum, effective strategies including structured academic controversy and deliberation, and online civic education projects. Three workshops with a total of 20 hours of professional development offered.
• Over 45 new lessons on Minnesota State and Local Government, resulted in lessons on the proposed constitutional amendments, amendment process, juvenile lessons, criminal procedure, U.S. Constitution, local government new lessons added to website.

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Learning Law and Democracy Foundation
Administered By
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987 Ivy Avenue East
St. Paul, MN 55106

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