Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill Thursday that aims to strengthen civics education in the state’s public schools, by taking a nonpartisan approach to civic engagement projects and awareness programs starting in the eighth grade.
Baker, a Republican, signed the bill in the company of Democratic legislative leaders, including Senate President Emeriti Harriet Chandler of Worcester, and educational leaders, including Education Secretary James Peyser.
The bill was approved by lawmakers at the close of the Legislature’s formal session in July. Baker asked for revisions to assure the new requirements were implemented in a nonpartisan fashion.
“We are grateful to our partners in the Legislature for their willingness to work with us on ensuring a nonpartisan process for students to pursue civics related opportunities.” Baker said in a statement released by his office.
The new law follows action by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to strengthen civics education. The board voted in June to approve a revised History and Social Sciences curriculum across multiple grade and subject areas, according to the statement.
“Civics education is about both learning and doing, and effective civic engagement is not simply about advocacy or action, it’s about listening, questioning, respectful dialogue, and compromise,” Peyser said in the statement. “In the end, civics should help our young people develop a love of our Commonwealth and our country and the democratic values they embody.”