State Bar of Georgia to Host Free iCivics Trainings in May and June

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Civic health measures the ways we engage with each other, with our institutions, and with our governmental processes. It also correlates with vital outcomes like economic resilience, workforce development, public health, and crime. That’s why Georgia Family Connection has been examining civic health data at the state and local levels for several years.

“Data revealed that Georgia’s civic health is worse than the national average across most measures,” said Rebecca Rice, Georgia KIDS COUNT manager at Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP). “The good news is that we are now looking at ways to improve civic engagement in communities across our state.”

One way to do that is through a national program called iCivics, which was founded by retired United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The program aims to reinvigorate learning about government and good citizenship. “The practice of democracy is not passed down through the gene pool,” said O’Connor. “It must be taught and learned anew by each generation of citizens.”

iCivics, which meets state social studies curriculum guidelines, provides students with the tools they need for active participation in our democracy, and teachers with the materials and support to encourage it.

“Good teaching requires getting and keeping a student’s attention,” said Ernest Lee, JD, 2016 Georgia Teacher of the Year. “Twenty-first century schools are much different, because educators now have to compete with social media and smart phones. What I like about this program is that it uses creative approaches that get students’ attention using video, video games, classroom games, and real-life situations. The iCivics curriculum makes civics and government come alive so students are engaged and actively learning. This program can be life changing for both students and teachers.”

The State Bar of Georgia is leading iCivics efforts in Georgia, and the Bar’s iCivics Committee is partnering with communities and schools to integrate iCivics into the social studies curriculum. So far, the Bar has provided iCivics training to teachers in the City of Atlanta, as well as in Augusta-Richmond, Muscogee, Chatham, Harris, Liberty, Wilkinson, Hall, Cobb, and Clarke county school districts.

“Because of the State Bar’s iCivics Committee’s efforts and the training we have provided, Georgia has become one of the top states for iCivics usage, and recent data has shown significant increases in iCivics usage in the very districts where training has been conducted,” said State Bar of Georgia’s iCivics Committee Chair Evelyn Fletcher Davis. “We know from the testimonials and comments of teachers across the state who have used iCivics in their classrooms that iCivics has a direct and positive impact on their students’ ability to learn and retain government and civics instruction.”

The State Bar is offering training on the use and value of iCivics in classrooms of all levels.

“Providing knowledge to students about the structures of our government and how our governments operate—as well as their own roles as engaged and responsible citizens—is crucial to the health of our democracy,” said State of Georgia Senior Judge Dorothy Toth Beasley, who also serves on the State Bar’s iCivics Committee. “After all, government in America is ‘we the people.’ ”

For more information on the program, visit iCivics.org and the iCivics page on the State Bar of Georgia’s website.

For additional information about GaFCP’s civic health initiative, contact Rebecca Rice at [email protected].