Downpayment on Our Democracy

Dear GC Community,

I hope this finds you safe and well, especially those in Texas who are still recovering from the winter storm. These first weeks as CEO of Generation Citizen have been energizing and inspiring for me. Each day, I see my new colleagues working with our wonderful teachers and teams across the country to bring action civics to students even, and especially, when the world is at its most chaotic and difficult. 

The interrelated challenges our country faces are decades, if not centuries, in the making, and will not be undone overnight. As we saw on January 6th, our democratic norms cannot be taken for granted. While this remains a period of accountability for individuals, it is also a moment of shared responsibility.

We are overdue to strengthen the foundation of our democracy, which starts in our classrooms. Through equity-rooted, experiential civics education, students realize the power of their own voices within communities, and develop a rich understanding of how government works.

At Generation Citizen, we also live out the lessons we teach: in order to create more equitable systems at all levels of society, we must advocate for policies that strengthen democracy. Today, I want to share our top federal policy priorities with you. 

Pass the Educating for Democracy Act: Our top priority, the passage of this bipartisan bill would significantly expand funding for civics education at the federal level. It would provide $1 billion to civics and social studies-related efforts focused on traditionally underserved rural and urban students. Grants would be available to school districts, civics non-profits, and higher education-based teacher-preparation programs. 

Revive the Department of Education’s higher education and K-12 partnerships: With these partnerships, institutions of higher education—including HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions—would identify pathways to scale up best practices for advancing racial equity in education. 

Restore the Rethink Discipline Initiative: We recommend the restoration of the Department of Education’s previous guidance on disciplinary strategies of classroom management; this common-sense approach would advance social-emotional learning and create educational environments conducive for democracy education. 

We urge the new Administration and Congress to respond to the events on January 6th with a downpayment on our democracy. This will lay the foundation for a stronger public square filled with informed, engaged young people strengthening the country for generations to follow.

In Service, Liz Clay Roy