After more than a dozen years of striving for a more robust civics curriculum in California’s public schools, advocates for civic learning are about to get their wish. On July 14, the State Board of Education approved a new California History-Social Science Framework–last updated in 2001–that includes greater focus on civic learning in elementary through high school. The California Department of Education will ready the new History-Social Science Framework for publication before the end of this year, and will roll out the framework to school districts throughout the state. 

The new History-Social Science Framework emphasizes civic learning and incorporates many of the recommendations of the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning, including the six proven practices in civic education.” 

Bill Honig, vice-chair of the State Board of Education Instructional Quality Commission

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye teamed with State Superintendent Tom Torlakson to establish the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning which issued its recommendations and blueprint for action in 2014.   

With the new History-Social Science Framework, our state has taken a major step forward in providing all students with the knowledge and skills they need to participate in civic life.

—Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye

When the Chief Justice launched her Civic Learning Initiative in 2013, there was no state plan to increase or improve civic learning. She appointed the Power of Democracy Steering Committee, whose members include leaders from law, education and civil society, to oversee and guide her initiative. Justice Judith McConnell serves as chair of the steering committee and was co-chair of the civic learning task force. 

The Chief Justice and her committee have also partnered with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to co-sponsor Civic Learning Awards, which recognize California public schools for providing high quality civic learning opportunities to all their students.