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Civics Teachers Offered New Training Resources

Oklahoma’s civics and government teachers will be offered new resources and training focusing on citizens’ rights and responsibilities as a result of a new Oklahoma Bar Association initiative. The OBA’s Law-related Education outreach will offer more than $50,000 in funds to provide professional development for teachers focusing on the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Middle- and high-school teachers may contact the OBA Law-related Education Dept. at 405-416-7024 or email janem@okbar.org for more information about the newly available programs, institutes and upcoming training dates.

The OBA is one of several organizations receiving these grants through the 46-state James Madison Legacy Project partnership, part of a nationwide professional development program directed by the California-based Center for Civic Education, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization.

“It is critical that our state’s teachers have a sound background in civics and government and develop the skills required to bring the subject to life for their students,” said attorney Suzanne Heggy, co-chair of the OBA Law-related Education Committee. “The grant funding we receive will be used to increase the number of highly effective Oklahoma teachers through professional development and the implementation of an exemplary curricular program for students.”

The OBA-sponsored teacher institutes and workshops will focus on the research-validated “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” program, a nationally acclaimed curriculum that teaches upper elementary, middle and high school students about the history and principles of the U.S. Constitution.

Heggy said the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in civics revealed that only about 25 percent of students performed at or above the “proficient” level. All the other students scored at “basic” or “below basic” levels that leave them ill-equipped to participate effectively in civic life.

“The James Madison Legacy Project is a much needed step to improve civic education,” said Heggy. “The project will use an existing professional development model that is enhanced with online resources.  It will also incorporate a new blended-learning variation of the traditional model that will involve the use of new online resources developed by the Center for Civic Education. These resources will provide teachers rich academic content and a mastery of teaching methods to help students develop the capacity and inclination to become competent and responsible civic-minded participants in their communities and the nation.”

For more information contact: Jane McConnell, OBA Law-related Education Coordinator janem@okbar.org 405-416-7024 

The 17,600-member Oklahoma Bar Association, headquartered in Oklahoma City, was created by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to advance the administration of justice and to foster and maintain learning, integrity, competence, public service and high standards of conduct among Oklahoma’s legal community.