A conversation between COE Dean Jennifer King Rice and former U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King kicked-off the Maryland Civic Education and Engagement Leadership Summit last week. Dr. King served under the Obama administration and currently is president and CEO of The Education Trust, a nonprofit addressing opportunity and achievement gaps in education. He also serves as a professor of practice at COE.
More than 150 people attended the virtual event on Wednesday, February 17, which included the MD Civic Education Coalition, University of Maryland College of Education and School of Public Policy, and civic educators and advocates from across Maryland. The opening discussion between Dean Rice and Dr. King spanned the role of civic education in democracy, equity, and the lives of young people.
“Civic education has always been central to the preservation of democracy,” said Dr. King. “Civic education has to be about readiness to participate in civic discourse in our society.”
The educators also spoke about preparing future educators, with Dean Rice pointing to COE’s commitment to recruit and prepare diverse equitable-minded educators for the next generation. Dean Rice and Dr. King contended that curriculums providing students further insight into difficult to talk about topics in America, such as slavery and the racial wealth gap, give students the tools to create and engage in an equitable and just society.
“We must prepare the next generation of global citizens for more meaningful and informed civic engagement,” said Dean Rice.
Similarly, Dean Rice and Dr. King discussed the importance of ensuring students have the skills to be active citizens in addressing racial and equity issues, the political process, and holding school boards accountable for actions.
“We have to do more to put students in the driver’s seat of this conversation,” Dr. King said. “We have to build a multigenerational commitment to civic education.”
Following the opening remarks between Dean Rice and Dr. King, participants went into roundtable sessions focused on civic education in Maryland classrooms, the rewards and challenges of civic education, political polarization, and media literacy. Closing remarks brought the summit to an end around 7:00 p.m.