From Illinois Business Journal news services
SPRINGFIELD — A new law aims to give Illinois high school graduates a better understanding of state government.
State Sen. Tom Cullerton’s initiative requiring a semester of civics to graduate high school was signed into law during the summer and takes effect Jan. 1.
Illinois has joined 40 other states in requiring at least one civics course as a graduation requirement for high school graduates. Illinois high school students are already required to complete two years of social studies. The high school curriculum will change starting with the freshman class of 2016-2017 to simply require one semester of the existing two year requirement to include a civics course.
“This is a big step toward engaging more people in the democratic process. Our goal is to give our young people the tools to make informed decisions and take an active role in government at all levels,” said Cullerton, D-Villa Park.
The Illinois Task Force on Civic Education recommended that Illinois should require a civic education course for all high schools in Illinois. The class would focus on government institutions, current issues and discussions and simulations of the democratic process.
Private funding will be provided to cover the costs associated with the implementation of the civics courses, such as professional development and other school needs.
“We need to give our young people the tools to be civically responsible,” said Cullerton. “Our children are the future of our state and nation, we need them make sure they are involved in order to ensure this world a better place.”