The Illinois Civics Mission Coalition (ICMC) has recognized 13 exceptional Illinois high schools as Democracy Schools, according to a September 15 press release.
Democracy Schools are recognized for providing students with authentic experiences in the rights, responsibilities and tensions inherent in living in a constitutional democracy. Through these experiences, participating schools strive to prepare students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for informed, effective engagement in our democracy.
Since 2006, 54 Illinois high schools have successfully completed a school-wide civic assessment and have been subsequently recognized as Democracy Schools. The 13 Illinois high schools that have earned this distinction in 2016 include:
- Alton High School, Alton
- Collinsville High School, Collinsville
- James B. Conant High School, Hoffman Estates
- Marie Sklodowska Curie Metro High School, Chicago
- Elmwood Park High School, Elmwood Park
- Lindblom Math and Science Academy, Chicago
- Mascoutah High School, Mascoutah
- New Tech High at Zion-Benton East, Zion
- Normal Community High School, Normal
- Normal Community West High School, Normal
- Plainfield North High School, Plainfield
- Streamwood High School, Streamwood
- Wheaton Warrenville South High School, Wheaton
Illinois Democracy Schools embrace the mission to provide high-quality civic learning opportunities for all students. Their leadership emphasizes civic learning through professional development of faculty, and proven civic learning practices are woven throughout the formal curriculum. Democracy Schools foster a school climate that nurtures and models civic dispositions and builds reciprocal relationships within the surrounding community.
The new Democracy Schools will receive funding from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation which convenes the ICMC to invest in high-quality civic learning initiatives.
“Our Democracy Schools network spans the state and represents its rich diversity,” said Sonia Mathew, Civic Learning Manager at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. “With the implementation of the new civics course requirement in Illinois, our 2016 Democracy Schools stand as models for their peers throughout the state to emulate.”
Democracy Schools provide numerous opportunities for students to participate in the democratic process through a range of classes and clubs. From class discussions on current issues and democratic simulations to extracurricular and service learning opportunities, students are able to experience first-hand the critical role they can play in shaping their government and society.
Plainfield North’s principal, Ross Draper, said in a district press release that the money will go toward student activities and clubs related to civics, educating teachers on using civic education in classes, and developing civic learning resources across curriculum. “Being a Democracy School also provides the students with opportunities, both in and out of the classroom, to put what is learned into action,” he said.