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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 2: Teaching of history and social science; professional development; student-led civic projects; commonwealth civics challenge

Section 2. (a) In all public schools, history of the United States of America and social science, including civics, shall be taught as required subjects to promote civic service and a greater knowledge thereof and to prepare students, morally and intellectually, for the duties of citizenship. Instruction within the history and social science academic standards required in section 1D of chapter 69 shall include: (i) history of the United States of America; (ii) the Constitution of the United States, including the Bill of Rights; (iii) the Declaration of Independence; (iv) the constitution of the commonwealth; (v) local history and government; (vi) the function and composition of the branches of local, state and federal government; (vii) the roles and responsibilities of a citizen in a democracy; (viii) the development of skills to access, analyze and evaluate written and digital media as it relates to history and civics; (ix) community diversity and historical trends in voter registration and civic participation relative to disenfranchised voter populations; (x) opportunities to identify and debate issues relative to power, economic status and the common good in democracy; and (xi) a program relating to the flag of the United States of America including, but not limited to, proper etiquette and the correct use and display of the flag, the importance of participation in the electoral process and the provisions of 4 U.S.C. sections 7 to 9, inclusive, and 36 U.S.C. section 301.

(b) The department of elementary and secondary education shall provide professional development opportunities for educators on the history and social science framework, and subject to sufficient resources in the Civics Project Trust Fund established under section 2CCCCC of chapter 29, create tools aligned with the framework to support districts in the implementation process. Additional support and outreach from the department may include statewide and regional trainings, meetings or conferences, including opportunities for districts and stakeholders to assess and share evidence-based best practices in support of civics education and provide feedback and recommendations to the department.

(c) Each public school serving students in the eighth grade and each public high school shall provide not less than 1 student-led, non-partisan civics project for each student; provided, however, that each such project shall be consistent with the history and social science curriculum frameworks adopted by the board pursuant to section 1E of chapter 69 and with structured learning time requirements as required under regulations promulgated by the board of elementary and secondary education. Civics projects may be individual, small group or class wide, and designed to promote a student's ability to: (i) analyze complex issues; (ii) consider differing points of view; (iii) reason, make logical arguments and support claims using valid evidence; (iv) engage in civil discourse with those who hold opposing positions; and (v) demonstrate an understanding of the connections between federal, state and local policies, including issues that may impact the student's school or community. Any student choosing not to participate in a particular group or class-wide project shall be offered the opportunity to develop an individual civics project, with approval by the principal.

(d) Subject to appropriation, the department shall establish the commonwealth civics challenge and shall establish guidelines for implementation. The challenge shall be available to all eighth grade public school students to showcase student-led civics projects that promote and demonstrate an understanding of civic engagement, citizenship and community service. The department may partner with a college, university, museum, library or other similar non-profit entity for the establishment of the challenge.