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Education Desk
The Education Desk is our education blog focusing on key areas of news coverage important to the state and its improvement. Evidence of public policy performance and impact will be reported and analyzed. We encourage you to engage in commenting and discussing the coverage of education from pre-natal to Higher Ed.Dusty Rhodes curates this blog that will provide follow-up to full-length stories, links to other reports of interest, statistics, and conversations with you about the issues and stories.About - Additional Education Coverage00000179-2419-d250-a579-e41d385d0000

Task Force Hopes To Help Turn Students Into Good Citizens

Illinois is one of only 10 states where students are not required to take a civics course. A task force of legislators and educators now recommends that students learn not just the history of government, but how to participate in it. 

Under current state law, high school students must complete two credits of social studies, including learning about the constitutions of both the United States and Illinois, as well as the proper use and display of the flag. But a task force has found that such courses often emphasize memorizing names and dates instead of current events and news literacy.

Task force chair Shawn Healy said that's akin to showing kids the mechanics of a bicycle without encouraging them to hop on and experience the ride.

"Exactly, yeah, it's reading notes in the hymn book without ever practicing the instrument," Healy said, "and we think students need to practice the instruments of democracy."

The General Assembly created the task force, which will deliver its final report to lawmakers in December. Recommendations include professional development for teachers and community service projects for both middle and high school graduation. 

The task force will take public comment Tuesday in Springfield from 4 to 6 p.m. at Lanphier High School. 

After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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