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September 14, 2023

Ahead of Constitution Day, Senators King and Lankford Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Civics Education and Pursue a ‘More Perfect Union’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) have introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen civics education resources for school children across the United States. Introduced ahead of Constitution Day on September 17, the Constitution education Is Valuable In Community Schools (CIVICS) Act would require higher education federal grant recipients to include Constitution education as a condition for the funding. The bill recognizes the importance of the United States Constitution, democratic values, and the role of good governance for the benefit of ‘a more perfect union.’

“Since its ratification in 1788, the U.S. Constitution has guided America’s system of government, and has been the blueprint for freedom and democracy around the globe,” Senator King said. “The continued success of our unique experiment in self-government relies on each successive generation understanding our shared past, national values, and the framers’ careful – though imperfect – work. If we truly want a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, we must make sure the people have the tools and perspective needed to play their part. It is the responsibility of this generation to ensure our students receive a full civics education. By passing the CIVICS Act, and expanding teaching of the Constitution, we can help young Americans gain the knowledge they need to continue our never ending work of building ‘a more perfect union.’”

“The Constitution isn’t just paper and ink. The soul of our nation rests in what our Constitution represents: the rule of law, personal responsibility without government coercion, protection of humanity, and a limited federal government,” Lankford said. “We must continue to safeguard those values and defend the Constitution’s carefully crafted guarantees of our freedoms and rights. Our children will only live our American values if we intentionally commit to pass down our Constitutional values to the next generation.”

First established in 1952, Congress expanded the recognition of Constitution Day in 2004, requiring public schools and federal agencies to teach the Constitution and civics lessons. The American History and Civics Education program under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, created grants for institutions of higher education and other organizations to develop evidence-based approaches to improve the quality of American history, civics and government. However, entities that receive these grants are not required to include educational programs regarding the Constitution or Bill of Rights. Under the CIVICS Act, grant recipients would be required to develop programming that teaches the Constitution.

Senator King has long championed increasing civic engagement and historical literacy, especially among younger Americans. As a former member of the Senate Rules Committee, he previously introduced a bipartisan bill, the Civics Secure Democracy Act, which would make a $1 billion annual investment in civics and history at K-12 and higher education institutions across the country. He also introduced bipartisan legislation to designate a National High School Seniors Voter Registration Day to encourage school districts nationwide to help high school seniors register to vote.


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