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Goldwater Launches Civics Workshops for Teachers

March 28, 2024

It is no secret that civics education in the United States has faltered in recent decades. That’s why the Goldwater Institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy has partnered with the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University to launch robust U.S. civics and history professional development workshops for middle and high school teachers.

Through a contribution from the Van Sittert Center, participating teachers will earn $300 stipends for attending one of the intensive 4.5 hour in-person workshops, available beginning on April 9. The workshops will be taught by university faculty from the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, and will encompass three distinct areas:

  • American History, focusing on the U.S. founding, the Civil War, and the Progressive Era;
  • American Institutions, featuring instruction on federalism, separation of powers, and judicial review; and
  • Arizona Standards: delving into Arizona-specific educational requirements regarding the Arizona Constitution, the Cold War, and comparative political systems.

The Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy, founded through a generous gift from Logan and Barbara Van Sittert, endeavors to promote understanding, appreciation, support, and defense of the U.S. Constitution and the American institutions it represents. The education of our nation’s students—and their teachers—is critical to advancing this goal.

Unfortunately, the current state of civics education in America is dire. The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, administered by the National Center for Education Statistics, showed a decrease in performance in 2022 among students on civics knowledge—bringing proficiency rates to their lowest levels in three decades. Compounding this problem, the professional development programs offered to our nation’s teachers too often redirect the classroom focus from American founding principles to ideologically radical, critical theories of modern-day academia. An American education devoid of substantive discussion of the ideals, institutions, and foundational philosophies of the American constitutional system is incompatible with public calls for a well-informed electorate.

The workshop series offered through Arizona State University’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership presents an outstanding opportunity for educators to work with subject-matter experts to focus on the American founding and key historical periods and events. The thematically organized content will provide a rich resource for teachers, with included pedagogy training to help teachers integrate the material into their subject areas in the K-12 environment.

Evening and weekend workshops are available beginning April 9. These sessions will provide opportunities for hundreds of Arizona teachers to improve their craft, earn professional development hours, and strengthen the educational experience of their students.

With a host of new resources at their disposal, educators will be able to return to their classrooms to continue their work in developing students’ civic and historical literacy, equipping them to engage in rigorous, yet civil, debate, with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the foundational pillars of our republic.

To learn more and register for a workshop, click here.

Tyler Bonin is the Civics Education Specialist at the Goldwater Institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy.



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