SECTION 1. Chapter 71 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting at striking out Section 2 and replacing it with the following section:-
Section 2. (a) For purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:-
“student led civics project” is a rigorous project-based approach that involves a student-led inquiry and learning process involving essential knowledge, and use of disciplinary concepts and tools, structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks.
“The Department” is the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“local educational agency” or “LEA” is a public board of education or other public authority legally constituted within Massachusetts for either administrative control or direction of, or to perform a service function for, public elementary schools or secondary schools in a city, county, township, school district , or other political subdivision of Massachusetts, or for a combination of school districts or counties as are recognized in Massachusetts as an administrative agency for its public elementary schools or secondary schools.
“The Fund” is the Civics Project Fund administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
(b) In all public elementary and high schools American history and civics, including the constitution of the United States, the declaration of independence and the bill of rights, and in all public high schools the constitution of the commonwealth and local history and government and a program relating to the flag of the United States of America, including, but not limited to, proper etiquette, the correct use and display of the flag, the importance of participation in the electoral process and the provisions of 36 U.S.C. 170 to 177, inclusive, shall be taught as required subjects for the purpose of promoting civic service and a greater knowledge thereof, and of fitting the pupils, morally and intellectually, for the duties of citizenship.
(c) There shall be set upon the books of the Commonwealth a fund known as the Civics Project Fund. The Fund shall be used by the Department to implement this section, including offering central capacity for standards, models, professional development infrastructure, and progress monitoring infrastructure. The remainder of the Fund may be allocated to regional educational collaboratives and districts to support curriculum development, offer professional development, and collaboration with outside entities that can support these efforts. Gifts, grants, and donations for those purposes from public and private sources shall be deposited into the Fund.
(d) Every student in the Massachusetts public school system shall complete no less than 2 student led civics projects, administered at 2 separate grade levels, as a requirement for graduation. These projects are intended to prepare students for lifelong civic motivation and participation through applied learning of civics content. These projects will provide for a student-centered inquiry process investigating the connection between federal, state, or local policy and an issue that impacts their community, research the issue, take strategic action to influence that issue, and create portfolios to demonstrate their process and outcomes. The project, and instruction on the skills and knowledge necessary to complete it, will be integrated into existing course curricula that also includes comprehensive civics content. Such courses may include Social Studies, History, Science, Math and English, or an independent civics course.
(e)The Department shall establish regional civics councils to monitor civics education implementation. Regional civics councils shall consist of representatives from K-12, higher education, nonprofits, and the business community. Regional civics councils shall include at least two voting high-school student members and shall solicit student input from students in their service area. The Department shall establish an annual convention and invite members of the regional civics councils to attend in order to assess the current state of civic education and make recommendations to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Department shall promulgate regulations consistent with this section specifying the size, membership, service area, selection process, and responsibilities for regional civics councils.
(f) (i)The Department shall promulgate regulations necessary to implement this section, which shall include a reporting mechanism to ensure that LEAs fulfill the requirements of this section.
(ii)The Department shall set quality standards, aligned with the existing Social Studies standards, in order to support LEAs in the implementation of this section. LEAs shall collaborate with schools within their jurisdiction to assist with project implementation and integration as well as offer curriculum options and professional development opportunities. The Department, regional civics councils, and LEAs may collaborate with outside entities to assist with the offering of said resources as well as in the evaluation of the implementation of this section and the achievement of objectives outlined in subsection (d).
(g) The Department shall establish the Edward M. Kennedy Civics Challenge. The Challenge shall be available to all eighth-grade students in the Massachusetts public school system. Participating students shall be administered a version of the U.S. citizenship test provided by the Department. The Department shall establish an annual statewide civics symposium for the top scoring one hundred students at an appropriate historic location. The Department shall notify the top scoring one hundred students of their invitation to attend said symposium. In the event of a tie score at the cut off for the top one hundred students, participation in the symposium shall be determined among those top scoring students by lottery.
(h) The Department shall establish the High School Voter Challenge. Every public high school shall name one or more currently enrolled pupils designated by the school administrator or nominated by peers to serve as voter outreach coordinators. The last two full weeks in April and the last two full weeks in September shall be known as “high school voter challenge weeks,” during which time voter outreach coordinators shall be allowed and encouraged to hold voter registration drives and reach out to other students who are eligible to register or pre-register to vote on any high school campus at locations and times deemed appropriate by the school administrator, or his or her designee, which are reasonably accessible to all students.
SECTION 2. The department of elementary and secondary education shall submit a report to the clerks of the senate and the house of representatives who shall forward the same to the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on education and the chairs of the house and senate committees on ways and means on the implementation of this act on or before July 1, 2020.
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