The Student Civic Engagement Academy was formed in partnership by the San Diego Regional Chamber and San Diego County Bar Association to educate high school seniors on various areas of the law and business in order to strengthen their interest in civic engagement. Through the program, students hear from business leaders, judges, elected officials, lawyers and other educators who will demonstrate the importance of informed citizenship.
The first Academy is currently in progress and the second year will begin in summer 2017. Applications will be available in March.
Why Is There A Need For A Civics Academy?
Most experts agree that civic learning helps teach children skills they need for the 21st-century workplace, including critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, creativity, initiative, and entrepreneurialism. As leaders in the community, we want our children to have the knowledge, skills, and values they need to enable them in their transition to adulthood and our workplaces.
According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, anyone with a mobile device can learn, debate, educate, advocate and organize on the go around causes that inspire them. Today civics and citizenship today means more than understanding the roles of government and voting in elections. It means making sense of local, national, and global events, trends and information, and acting safely, responsibly and ethically in online forums. Citizenship requires a wide range of knowledge, 21st-century skills, and experiences for effective and productive participation in education and the workplace, in democratic processes and in community life.
What Do We Mean By Civics And Why Is This Important To Employers?
Understanding civic values, skills and knowledge help prepare our youth for a variety of circumstances – all of which translate into the workplace:
- Being able to understand and tolerate a variety of perspectives
- Be able to gather and process information, listen, think critically, speak in public and engage in discussion and constructive dialogue/debate
- Understand how to constructively participate in civil discourse and understand how the tools of argumentation and discussion turn unsubstantiated opinions into reasoned arguments;Be able to collaborate, build consensus and take collective action to address issues;
- Be able to negotiate differences
- Understand the issues of the day
- Foster the mindset in young people, educators, and community members about the importance of these skills and their applications
These skills also help youth:
- Better understand democratic processes, how government and associations work and
how decisions get made
- Feel more confident exercising their civic duty including voting, jury duty and communicating
with policy makers
- Demonstrate concern for the rights and wellbeing of others
- Be predisposed to take action to change things for the better
Over the past two decades, most school districts in California have eliminated civics education from their curriculum. While San Diego Unified School district and other local school districts have taken steps to reintegrate civics education into our local K-12 curriculum, we as leaders in our community need to provide opportunities to those who will not benefit from this curriculum before we see them as new employees.
About Year 1 of the Academy:
- The pilot will be for 20-30 High School Seniors.
- The pilot would take place over 3-4 consecutive Saturdays in October. Students would be given a theoretical community issue to address that would be the basis for teaching and learning. Business leaders, civics teachers, judges, lawyers and conflict resolution experts will teach modules and act as advisors.
- The focus will be around the following statement from the California Taskforce on K-12 Civic Learning’s Call to Action: Civic learning done right helps teach children skills they need for the 21st-century workplace, including critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, creativity, initiative, and entrepreneurialism.
- A kick-off event will be held for Academy students, businesses partners, Chamber leadership and members of the bench and bar on Thursday, September 29, 2016.