Poway Unified School District

Superintendent ~ Poway Unified School District

John P. Collins, Ed.D. 

(858) 521-2700 FAX (858) 485-1075

Tina McDowell
Executive Assistant to the Superintendent
(858) 521-2700    FAX (858) 485-1075

Rich Newman, Ed.D.
Director of Innovation, Office of Innovation
(858) 521-2737

Jessica Wakefield
Director of Communications
(858) 521-2707  FAX (858) 485-1075

Wendy Anderson
Executive Assistant to the Board
(858) 521-2700   FAX (858) 485-1075

September 30, 2014

Dear PUSD Families,

Civic education plays an essential role in strengthening our democratic society, preparing informed citizens and promoting their participation in the civic life of their communities… Students from kindergarten through grade 12 need to be provided with the necessary learning experiences to enable them to become informed and actively participating citizens.
A Report by the Policy Research Project on Civic Education Policies and Practices, 1999

I often write to you about the importance of College and Career readiness. This month, I would like to discuss a different and equally important measure of readiness – preparing our students to be informed, responsible and active citizens.

Civic education has been a part of the American public education system from its earliest days. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1816, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free…it expects what never was and never will be.” It was his strong belief in education as the bedrock of democracy that made Jefferson one of our earliest and strongest champions of public education.

In the present day, the California Common Core Standards (CCCS) include a defined focus on civic education:

  1. The CCCS literacy standards emphasize the importance of content and vocabulary to reading comprehension. This is why they explicitly call for teachers to use a “content-rich curriculum” to drive teaching and learning.
  2. There are only five readings explicitly required by the CCCS: One is a Shakespearean play, and the other four are The Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.
  3. The CCCS emphasize the importance of reading significant American historical documents, including the Federalist Papers and other seminal U.S. texts.

The emphasis on the Founding Documents will not only help drive reading gains, but it can also help ensure that our students graduate with a far better and deeper understanding of American history, civics, and government.

With any subject a student tackles, some of the best learning comes with hands-on, real-time experiences. One such experience is taking place right now, as we approach the November, 2014 elections, including the election of three members to the PUSD Board of Education.

I encourage you to take advantage of this unique “lesson in Democracy” with your children and grandchildren. Discuss the role of a Board Member. Ask what they think a Board member should know and be able to do. Read the candidates’ ballot statements together. And, most important of all, let them know the importance of voting in a Democratic society – and that you intend to vote.

John P. Collins, Ed.D.