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.”


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