Minnesota Civic Education Coalition

The Minnesota Civic Education Coalition represents concerned citizens and organizations that promote civic education in Minnesota schools, communities, and government.

The coalition began because of a concern about the decline of civic education and its impact on Minnesota’s civic culture.

What is Minnesota’s civic cultural heritage?

Our civic cultural heritage represents what we value and the way we behave in a civil society and helps develop the rules and practices we need to preserve our quality of life.  We  take pride in the strong heritage of civic culture that makes Minnesota stand apart from others.

  • We cherish strong local problem solving efforts: school boards, city councils, community organizations, etc. Most problems can be solved by working together. We recognize that solutions sometimes involve the government, and sometimes don’t. We also know it is helpful to know when to call St. Paul for help.
  • We take the phrase “we the people” seriously. We believe that involvement in government matters and that it is important to have a chance to be heard. We also know how helpful it is to know the rules and have the skills to speak your mind.
  • We believe in transparency in government. Transparency has been mentioned often when discussing goals for these funds. Transparency in government is meaningless unless you know what you are looking for, where to find it, and what it means. Education gives transparency value.
  • We vote in large numbers, most of the time leading the nation in voter turnout. We value our clean campaigns and informed voters, and we want to keep them that way.

The Challenge

Despite Minnesota’s great civic heritage, all is not well. Because of demands for emphasis on math and science and training for the global workplace and competing education standards, civic education is declining across Minnesota in a time that cries out for more. Retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson recently said, “We are at a critical time for civics education, maybe even at a crisis point….  Civics education currently suffers from malnutrition, and we need to restore its health.”

John Dewey once said “Democracy needs to be reborn in each generation and education is its midwife.” We cannot take our well-known civic culture for granted. We need to invest in the knowledge and skills needed to be good citizens because the problems we face demand effective citizens. As University of Minnesota Professor Dr. Michael Hartoonian has said “If we fail here, we fail absolutely.”

Support the Minnesota Civic Education Coalition and become part of the solution!

Interested in knowing how well your school is doing? Take the Minnesota Civic Education Self Assessment 2013

In the News


Sam Stone Talks Teaching Civics in Classrooms on Fox & Friends

NEWSWEEK gave 1,000 Americans the U.S. Citizenship Test—38 percent failed.

The country’s future is imperiled by our ignorance. In this week’s issue, Andrew Romano looks at the risks involved in America’s ignorance.

Click to take the quiz

Constructing a Citizenry, Variance in Civic Education in Minnesota’s Secondary Schools

by Hopi Costello, (2010) Honors Projects, Macalester College, Paper 27


“In a nation that depends on citizen participation for the functioning of the state, it is important to understand that the way we teach students to participate may differ across locales.” In this honors thesis, Ms Costello fills the gap in basic descriptive data about the state of civic education in Minnesota’s high schools and sheds light on civic education by exploring factors that influence it.

Youth Volunteering in the States 2002-2009

The volunteering rate among Americans of high-school age (16-18) hit its peak in 2005, at 33%, but has since declined to 27-29% for the past four years, according to the new CIRCLE fact sheet “Youth Volunteering in the States: 2002 to 2009.” This fact sheet provides rates of volunteering for teenagers and young adults by state in 2002 through 2009. It also summarizes state policies relevant to youth volunteering. More information:  Fact Sheet

A Tale of Two Cities: Civic Engagement in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Miami

On January 24 in Miami, the National Conference on Citizenship and its Florida and Minnesota partners released a report entitled Tale of Two Cities: Civic Health in Miami and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Miami is the least civically engaged major city in the country, and Minneapolis-St. Paul is the most engaged metropolitan area. In both communities (as Read More >

Civic Skills and Federal Policy

On April 29, 2010, scholars, civic leaders, and federal officials met in Washington to develop a federal policy agenda for civic skills. The conference was convened by CIRCLE at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service. It was co-sponsored by the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools and Strengthening Our Nation’s Democracy (SOND). This report was written and endorsed by 33 participants (not including any of the federal officials who attended).

The report can be found here.

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