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The Illinois Civic Mission Coalition (ICMC), convened by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, is deeply committed to ensuring that all students in Illinois have access to high-quality civic learning experiences. In addition to the Democracy Schools initiative, the ICMC pursues this objective by advocating for supportive policies at the school, district and state levels.

Current Policy Priorities

ICMC advocacy efforts were central to passage of Illinois Public Act 99-0434, a law requiring a high school civics course in order to graduate. The ICMC turns next to supporting implementation of the law through a statewide system of teacher professional development and curricular supports. This will occur in tandem with the roll out of new Illinois Social Science Standards and efforts to inject civic learning pedagogies in collegiate pre-service teaching programs.

Policy Milestones

August 2015

Governor Bruce Rauner signs House Bill 4025 into law. It requires a semester-long high school civics course that includes instruction on government institutions, discussion of current and controversial issues, service-learning, and simulations of democratic processes. The law applies to incoming freshmen beginning with the 2016-2017 school year.

June 2015

The Illinois State Board of Education adopts new Social Science Standards. They proceed next to public comment and final approval by the Joint Committee on Administrative rules prior to implementation.

December 2014

The Illinois Task Force on Civic Education issues its final report to the Illinois General Assembly. The Task Force was charged with analyzing the state of civic education in Illinois, examining related laws and identifying best practices in other states. The Task Force was chaired and made preliminary policy and funding recommendations to the ILGA in May 2014. It later held public hearings and solicited public comments on its recommendations.

August 2014

Illinois State Board of Education announces that ICMC will lead task force charged with revising state social studies standards.

March 2014

Seventeen-year-olds who will turn 18 by the November general election are able to vote in a primary for the first time in state history thanks to ‘Suffrage at 17’ (Illinois House Bill 226), which was supported by the ICMC.

October 2013

Democracy School status first recognized on Illinois Report Card.

August 2013

Governor Quinn signs Illinois House Bill 2428, an act that establishes the Task Force on Civic Education. Shawn Healy, the McCormick Foundation’s civic learning and engagement scholar, is appointed as chair.

July 2013

ICMC advocates for passage of Illinois House Bill 226, an act that allows 17-year-olds to participate in the primary elections provided they will be 18 by the general election. The act is passed into law on July 3.

May 2011

Illinois State Senate Resolution 149 commends current Democracy Schools, encourages all secondary schools in Illinois to become Democracy Schools and resolves that each school district’s school report card indicate Democracy School status.

September 2009

Governor Quinn issues a letter recognizing 2009 Democracy Schools.

February 2009

Illinois State Board of Education issues a resolution endorsing the Illinois Civic Blueprint.

August 2007

ICMC advocates successfully for the Civic Education Advancement Act, which institutionalizes the Democracy School recognition process and allocates state funding to support related teacher professional development. The act remainds part of Illinois School Code, but has yet to receive recommended appropriations.

November 2005

The Illinois General Assembly adopts House Resolution 0509, which acknowledges the value of the Democracy School initiative.