NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee Department of Education announced the districts and schools earning the 2020-21 Tennessee Excellence in Civics Education and unveiled the Governor’s Civics Seal at McConnell Elementary in Hamilton County. The 53 schools and three districts receiving this designation will be recipients of the Governor’s Civics Seal, which recognizes schools and districts that prioritize teaching the nation’s history and civics values.
Recognizing the importance of civics values and education, Governor Bill Lee announced the “Governor’s Civics Seal” during his first State of the State address on March 4, 2019. Additionally, the Tennessee General Assembly passed Public Chapter 330 of 2019, which is now codified in T.C.A. 49-6-1028 and officially established the Governor’s Civic Seal.
“Tennessee is invested in providing all of our students with a high-quality civics education,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “We are raising a generation of young people who are knowledgeable in American history and confident in navigating their civic responsibilities. In Tennessee, our students will be taught unapologetic American exceptionalism.”
The Governor’s civics initiative was designed to promote lifelong civic engagement by providing access to high-quality, standards-based civics resources; establish civics programs in rural and urban schools and districts; support highly effective educators through civics-based professional development; and prepare schools and districts to earn the Governor’s Civics Seal.
“Through the Governor’s Civics Seal initiative, Tennessee schools and districts are intentionally working to help students build their preparedness for strong, lifelong civic engagement,” said Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I’m proud to see the steady increase of schools and districts participating in this initiative, because strong academic instruction around civics will help Tennessee students understand how to be productive citizens in their jobs and communities after graduation.”
To earn the Governor’s Civics Seal, schools must meet the following criteria:
- Incorporate civic learning across a broad range of grades and academic subjects that builds upon Tennessee academic standards
- Provide instruction regarding our nation’s democratic principles and practices, the significant events and individuals responsible for the creation of our foundational documents, and the formation of the governments of the United States and the state of Tennessee using the federal and state foundational documents in accordance with S 49-6-1028
- Provide professional development opportunities or student resources that support civics education
- Provide opportunities for students to engage in real-world learning activities
- Fully implement a high-quality, project-based assessment in accordance with S 49-6-1028(e)
- Receive recognition as a civics all-star school in accordance with S 49-6-408, when applicable
Districts and schools are highlighted as Governor’s Civics Seal recipients by:
- Each school earning the Seal is recognized on the State Report Card as a Tennessee Excellence in Civics Education School
- Each district with at least 80% of their schools having earned the seal is a Tennessee Excellence in Civics Education District
“We see a direct correlation between high-quality civics education and voter participation,” said Assistant Majority Leader Ron Gant. “Governor Lee and our legislature are committed to ensuring McConnell Elementary School’s success in civic engagement can be replicated across the state, and the next generation of Tennesseans will be the beneficiaries of these programs.”
“In McNairy County Schools, we are dedicated to providing a high-quality education to all students and ensuring they are prepared for life outside the classroom. We are extremely proud to be named a Tennessee Excellence in Civics Education District,” said Greg Martin, Director of Schools, McNairy County Schools. “I applaud our educators for recognizing the need to help our students see the importance of community involvement along with the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. We would like to thank the Department of Education and Governor Lee for their dedication and support as we educate the future leaders of our communities.”
“Our school community works hard to provide exceptional civics and history instruction that equips our students to be future ready,” said Ruth Pohlman, Principal, McConnell Elementary School. “Thank you, Governor Lee and Commissioner Schwinn, for hosting this exciting announcement at our school and investing in civics education that prepares our students for success after school.”
Tennessee has invested in civics education in recent years through grants and award opportunities for districts and schools. Key highlights include:
- October 2019: With the launch of the program, Governor Lee announced mini-grants would be awarded to support public schools and districts in implementing high-quality civics education programs that result in readiness for college, career, and civic life.
- January 2020: Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee Department of Education awarded 21 Governor’s Civics Seal mini-grants totaling $220,000 to be used in the 2020-21 school year.
- March 2021: 59 schools and districts were awarded Governor’s Civics Seal grant funding. The 59 grant applicants, which included 42 schools and 17 districts, were awarded funding totaling $500,000 through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER).
For the 2020-21 school year, three districts and 53 schools representing 12 districts and will earn the Tennessee Excellence in Civics Education School designation and the Governor’s Civics Seal. View the full list here and the Seal design here. Learn more about the Governor’s Civics Seal initiative here.