Our civics education bill is headed to the governor’s desk

One of our priority bills for the session which will address civics education updates, SB 702, passed both chambers and is now headed to the governor’s desk to be signed!

SB 702 would require that during the State Board of Education’s existing review of social studies standards for kindergarten through grade 12, they shall consider emphasizing and making accessible instruction related to civics education, while also involving various community stakeholders in the process to ensure that the educational system is responsive and addressing the needs and ambitions of 21st-century learners. We expect that ODE will use an inclusive, accessible, and equitable process in its engagement of stakeholders. Additionally, SB 702 allows for an in-depth discussion on creating accessible civics education related to:

  • Voting rights and how to vote
  • Current and historical social movements
  • The roles of local governments and tribal governments
  • The United States Constitution, the Oregon Constitution, and the constitutional form of government in this country

Why does this bill matter?

Schools can, and should, play a key role in ensuring that all young people have access to the information and skill-building they need to be engaged and informed participants in our democracy. 

In June 2020, Next Up Action Fund hosted 7 focus groups to hear firsthand about people’s perspectives and experiences with civics education in Oregon. This group of 40 people included current high school students, recent high school graduates (who finished within the last 1-3 years), and high school teachers from 24 different high schools across Oregon. While there was not a singular solution that emerged from discussions, it was extremely clear that a vast majority of participants strongly agreed that civics education is a vital and necessary piece of education and a key piece in addressing inequities in our education system. It was clear that not all participants were receiving the same information or quality of instruction, but all desired to learn how to be active participants in their communities.

Our bill to review social studies standards to include civics education is supported by community organizations such as Forward Together Action, Oregon Student Association, and OLCV. It provides an opportunity for an in-depth dialogue around how to improve our civics standards, that we can include more stakeholders to have a purposeful review of social studies standards, and finally, address any existing gaps of learning.

Thank you to our sponsors

Thank you to chief sponsors Senator Dembrow and Senator Manning Jr.
Also big thanks to regular sponsors Senator Beyer, Frederick, Golden, Gorsek, Representative Alonso Leon, Campos, Dexter, Fahey, Gomberg, Grayber, Hudson, Kropf, Lively, Pham, Reardon, Ruiz, Sollman, Wilde, Williams.