Senate Allocates $1.5M for Civics Education Championed Locally by Vargas, Campbell, DiZoglio

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Six months after the governor signed a law implementing new statewide civics education requirements, the Senate moved Wednesday to dedicate $1.5 million in next year’s budget to help implement the new curriculum.

Senators, including Sen. Diana DiZoglio, voted 39-0 in favor of a fiscal year 2020 budget amendment allocating $1.5 million to the Civics Project Trust Fund, which was created under the new law to help districts implement civics courses and assignments. State House News Service reports Harriette Chandler, who sponsored the amendment and last session’s bill, said the money was a “down payment on the civics education of Massachusetts” that will help educate and engage future leaders.

Such civics education has been championed locally by Merrimack Valley legislators DiZoglio, Andy Vargas and Linda Dean Campbell, among others.

“These projects require good teacher training and in-depth curriculum,” Chandler said on the Senate floor. “The money included in this amendment will capitalize the Civics Project Trust Fund to support the infrastructure, curriculum resources and professional development needed to integrate high-quality civics education.”

Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill last November, and Chandler said the new material — covering a range of topics related to government, including American history, how various branches work, and disenfranchised voter populations — will be taught beginning in September 2020.

At a lobby day this month, the Massachusetts Civics Learning Coalition asked lawmakers to back Chandler’s amendment and approve $1.5 million in funding for the new program.

Sen. Eric Lesser said civics education is a crucial way to help students become interested in public service.

“From John Adams to Sojourner Truth, from John Kennedy to Clara Barton, our young people have stepped up to be participants in democracy,” he said. “We can’t do that if we’re not teaching in schools how to get involved.”

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