Civics Education Resource Site

Best Practices in Civic Education

Florida’s Joint Center on Citizenship

In order to implement the Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Learning Act of 2010, the State of Florida created the Joint Center on Citizenship, a partnership between the Bob Graham Center at the University of Florida and the Lou Frey Institute at the University of Central Florida.

The Joint Center was endowed by state with $7 million and receives recurring appropriations of $400,000 annually for teacher professional development aligned with a required 7th grade civics course. The Joint Center’s early stand-alone professional development offerings were poorly subscribed, so they turned instead to a school district organized model where social studies supervisors request the services of the Joint Center and subsequently recruit teachers to attend their workshops.

On the 2014 statewide test, 61% of Florida students achieved proficiency in civics, compared to 23% of middle school students nationally in the most recent NAEP Civics Assessment.

Find out more at

Democracy Schools

The Illinois Civic Mission Coalition’s (ICMC) Democracy Schools share a commitment to expanding and improving civic learning experiences across the curriculum. By employing exemplary practices, they continuously strive to embody the five common elements that are necessary to sustain this commitment from one class of students to the next. These five elements are explored in depth in the Illinois Civic Blueprint, 2nd edition.

Watch the videos below to hear how members of the Democracy School community are employing exemplary practices across the five common elements.

Vision & Leadership (1:32)


Dr. Karen Boran is principal at John Hancock College Prep, a Chicago Public Schools neighborhood high school that joined the Democracy School Network in 2013. She explains how vital it is for her to engage all members of a school's community—not just fellow administrators and teachers, but also students and their parents.

Learn more about vision and leadership in the Illinois Civic Blueprint.

Staff Development (1:31)


Susan Gahagan Mueller is the social studies department chair at Maine West High School, a Democracy School since 2009. In this video, she addresses the ways in which her district, school and department empower teachers to continuously improve their practice.

Learn more about staff development in the Illinois Civic Blueprint.

School Climate (1:59)


Don Pankuch is the social studies department chair at Metea Valley High School, a Democracy School since 2011. In this video, Don addresses the ways in which his school's climate supports and reflects their commitment to civic learning.

Learn more about school climate in the Illinois Civic Blueprint.

Curriculum (2:13)


Mary Ellen Daneels is a social studies teacher at Community High School, which has been a Democracy School since 2006. She describes how an activity that started in one teacher's classroom evolved into a school-wide, semester-long curricular fixture that transformed the way civics is taught at her school. Watch a video of the simulation in action.

Learn more about curriculum in the Illinois Civic Blueprint.

School-Community Connections (2:16)


Michael Dougherty, president of Josephinum Academy, talks about his school's deep commitment to forging reciprocal partnerships in the surrounding community. A Democracy School since 2013, Josephinum fosters community relationships that form a vital safety net for students.

Learn more about school-community connections in the Illinois Civic Blueprint.