The New Hampshire Supreme Court Society is advancing its civics education curriculum project with three upcoming planning sessions for its Civics Task Force. The intent is to scope out and define an ideal K-12 civics education for public school students. The first meeting took place in the Franklin Pierce Law Center Board Room on September 16.
The Society's Civics Task Force is co-chaired by John D. Hutson, Dean and President of Franklin Pierce Law Center and Thomas C. Galligan, Jr., President of Colby Sawyer College. Dana Remus Irwin, Assistant Professor of Law at Franklin Pierce Law Center, serves as the Reporter for the Task Force. Two follow up planning sessions are scheduled for October 7 th and November 11 th . According to Mary Susan Leahy, President of the New Hampshire Supreme Court Society, "These planning sessions are the next steps for developing and implementing a second-to-none civics education and civic engagement program that will engage New Hampshire students at all levels."
Task Force members are readying themselves for the first meeting. They are in the process of identifying what they believe the outcomes should be for students actively engaged in stimulating civics education programs in the class room throughout their public school experience as well as participating in one or more of the superb extra-curricular civics engagement programs which currently exist in New Hampshire. Reporter Dana Irwin is collecting individual responses and organizing them for discussion at the first Task Force meeting.
In 2008, the Society convened a think tank on Civics Education. A group of New Hampshire citizens was asked to assess the current status of civics education, to offer ideas for developing a continuum of civics instruction for all public schools students, and to see that all public school students are afforded real opportunities for meaningful civic engagement in the course of their education. Think tank members, in a report issued in December 2008, made the following assessment of New Hampshire public school civics education:
- New Hampshire has no core civics curriculum for a student's progression from Kindergarten through grade 12, and there are no meaningful core civics education goals for public school students. Civics education in New Hampshire is at best dependent on the interest and resources of individual teachers and schools.
- While many excellent opportunities and programs exist for both civics education and civic engagement, meaningful access to these programs for New Hampshire students is episodic and largely dependent on individual teacher or student interest.
- Beyond K-12, more lifelong opportunities should exist for both civics education and civic engagement for New Hampshire citizens.
With the work of the Civics Task Force, the Society will move even closer to its goal of developing a continuum of civics instruction for all public schools students. Co-Chair Tom Galligan emphasized how important this project is: "As educators, John Hutson and I are both honored and excited to work on this very important civics education project. Every citizen in a democracy must not only understand how government works but also appreciate their responsibility to participate in that democracy. Our goal is to identify what we think every graduate of every high school in New Hampshire should know about our national and state governments and their roles. We are especially pleased to be working with the very accomplished individuals on the task force."
"In our vision, we aren't creating a civics course per se, nor are we telling teachers and school districts what they should be teaching in each grade, K-12," said Co-Chair John Hutson. "Rather, we are identifying ultimate outcomes that can result from learning consistently over time in various courses including history, economics, social studies, and government."
Members of the Society's Civics Task Force include:
- Virginia M. Barry, Commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Education
- John T. Broderick Jr, Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court
- Frank Clulow, Vice President for Academic Affairs, White Mountains Community College
- Bradford E. Cook, Sheehan, Phinney Bass + Green, PA
- Aine Donovan, Executive Director, The Ethics Institute; Associate Professor, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College
- Megan Devorsey, Concord School Board Member
- Lewis M. Feldstein, President, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation
- Susan M. Frost, Mascoma School District Board Member
- Thomas C. Galligan, Jr., President, Colby-Sawyer College
- John Burwell Garvey, Director, Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program; Professor of Law, Franklin Pierce Law Center
- Gary E. Hicks, Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court
- Randall S. Hanson, Chair, Department of Social Services and Education, Colby-Sawyer College
- John D. Hutson, Dean and President, Franklin Pierce Law Center
- Dana Irwin, Assistant Professor of Law, Franklin Pierce Law Center
- Sylvia Larsen, President, New Hampshire State Senate
- Mary Susan Leahy, President, New Hampshire Supreme Court Society
- Daniel J. Marcus, Teacher, John Stark Regional High School
- Jeannine L. McCoy, Executive Director, New Hampshire Bar Association
- Christine Rath, Superintendent, Concord School District
- Tara Reardon, Commissioner, Department of Employment Security; Former State Representative
- Susan Robichaud, Fourth Grade Teacher, Beaver Meadow Elementary School
- Elizabeth Robinson, student, Colby Sawyer College
- Deborah T. Scire, Executive Director of New Hampshire Alliance for Civic Engagement
- Richard D. Schubart, Bates-Russell Distinguished Faculty Professor, Philips Exeter Academy
- David H. Souter, retired Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
- Lyonel B. Tracy, former New Hampshire Education Commissioner; former Superintendent of Schools, Portsmouth, NH
- William P. Veillette, Executive Director, Northeast Document Conservation Center
- Christopher G. Ulrich, Law Student, Franklin Pierce Law Center
- James Wright, President Emeritus and Eleazar Wheelock Professor at Dartmouth College