BACK TO SCHOOL

We know that kids are leading the way in the fight for climate justice by suing state governments and our federal government and demanding their right to a stable climate, clean air and clean water.  But are all our kids equipped to engage our democracy in the same way?  What do our kids even know about climate justice? Or a constitutional democracy for that matter?  Unfortunately, parents with children in the Seattle public school system know that these topics are too often overlooked.  This gap in our children’s education exists, despite the fact that we are in the process of warming up our planet to a perilous degree and that our democracy has been hacked by corporate interests. Parents and teachers at SSCAN believe that climate justice education must be an integral part of our children’s education and we are currently working to advance this agenda in Seattle schools through more formal channels via the city council and school board. Please contact info@southseattleclimate.org for more information about our work in this area.
 
 Seattle public schools should be following the lead of the Portland, Oregon school board by making climate justice mandatory curriculum.  Or following Riki Ott, and her colleagues at Ultimate Civics, who have some great ideas about teaching kids to be active participants in our democracy.  The FREE, online Ultimate Civics curriculum, teaches middle school kids how to build sustainable and just democracies.  Below is a more detailed description of this inspiring new curriculum that was sent to SSCAN:

 

ULTIMATE CIVICS

Ultimate Civics is taking a bold step beyond ordinary civics to fill a critical gap in education. We’re helping teachers show kids the difference between democracy in principle and democracy in practice, using hands on activities that encourage real-life civic engagement.

Ultimate Civics has created Activating My Democracy, a six-lesson set for middle school students that explores our constitutional democracy. It lets kids peer through the lens of landmark laws that have shaped our society from the Constitution to the present.

“The goal is to make democracy work for everyone,” says Riki Ott, director of Earth Island Institute’s Ultimate Civics project. “Constitutional democracy requires vigilant work towards the ideal, to defend our liberties, and limit the power of government. But this work doesn’t have to be limited to adults – youth can be very active change agents.”

Activating My Democracy gives young people the tools and skills to become effective game-changers with the ability to move ideas into action. Exercises like “The Rights Race” and the tricolor “Timeline of Rights and Powers” vividly illustrate to kids how certain populations may be at a disadvantage, how human rights compare to corporate rights, and why the balance of power has shifted over time.

Practical activities engage youth in understanding how they can promote constructive social change. Lessons explore two monumental teachable moments for youth: a proposed constitutional amendment to address internal threats to our democracy, and a climate-change lawsuit filed by twenty-one youth plaintiffs against the federal government. Both of these issues offer lifetime skills in civic engagement for students who choose to get involved.

Activating My Democracy lessons were inspired by middle school students. During a class presentation, students asked Dr. Ott for a lesson to help them understand the legal issues in the climate change litigation brought by kids their own age. The prototype lesson led to more questions about the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and in particular how to get involved in local Youth Climate Action Now campaigns. Activating My Democracy builds up to its final lesson, “Our Future is a Constitutional Right,” a slogan created by sixth graders who completed the prototype lesson.

Activating My Democracy is available for free at www.ultimatecivics.org and is suitable for middle school classes, homeschool study, e-schoolers, and civic groups. Lessons come complete with teaching guides, power point presentations, and worksheets, and are geared to specific standards from the C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards. Each module is packed with additional resource citations, and incorporates readily available videos that inspire young people to become active participants in democracy.