Sept. 30, 2020
It would not be hyperbole to say that the world has changed since the last edition of The County Crier. Yet, with all that is going on, educators across the county are still focused on trying to teach about voting and the 2020 election. As difficult as this might be in the traditional classroom, our current context makes this even more challenging. In the Resources section below, you will find a number of lessons, suggestions, and other instructional materials that focus on this topic. The list starts with ideas for helping to develop civil discourse. The remainder are resources for teaching about the voting process, voting history, and voter information.

The importance of developing civic literacy will not end this November, but is an ongoing process. Teachers can continue to focus on integrating civics along with economics, geography, and history into their daily lessons. Additionally, watch for powerful learning opportunities for students such as History Day and Mock Trial. A number of these events are still being planned for the 2020-21 school year.

Don’t forget, the deadline to register to vote is Oct. 19.

History-Social Science Coordinator, San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE)
Teaching About Voting

Creating an Environment that Supports Civil Discourse
One of the Six Proven Practices of Civic Learning is to provide opportunities for “discussion of current local, national, and international issues and events in the classroom, particularly those that young people view as important to their lives.” In doing so, educators allow students to “learn how to engage productively with the issues and events that animate our political system today and will continue to do so in the future.” (National Center for Learning and Civic Engagement)

At the same time, this election is unlike any in our lifetime. It can evoke high levels of emotion from students and can create extreme discord in the class. Therefore, especially in a distance-learning environment, educators should ensure that they have created an environment that supports civil discourse. These resources provide guidance for educators:

In addition, the National Constitution Center recommends that educators frame questions in a manner that is not political. Instead, the center suggests questions should focus on Constitutional issues. Examples provided by the National Constitution Center include:
On income taxes:
  • Political Question: Should the federal government increase income taxes?
  • Constitutional Question: Does the federal government have the authority to tax individuals?

On mail-in voting:
  • Political Question: Should the election move to predominantly mail in voting?  
  • Constitutional Question: Can states decide to move voting to a predominantly mail in format?

Teaching Resources
Below are resources that educators can use to teach about voting and the Nov. 3 presidential election. They are provided for informational purposes only. Educators should review them thoroughly and determine their appropriateness for their students.

Lesson Plans

Voter Information and Voter Outreach

Current Events and Media Literacy
HSS county crier updates section header
California Civic Learning Award 
The Civic Learning Award for public schools is co-sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye. The award is designed to recognize the role of public schools in preparing students for participation in our democratic system. The award celebrates successful efforts to engage students in civic learning and to identify successful models that can be replicated in other schools. Since the inception of this award, several San Diego County schools have been recognized for their civic learning programs.

Seal of Civic Engagement
At its September meeting, the State Board of Education (SBE) approved criteria for California students to earn a new Seal of Civic Engagement. To earn the seal, students must demonstrate excellence in civic learning, participation in civics-related projects, contributions to their community, and an understanding of the U.S. Constitution, the California Constitution, and the American democratic system. Students may earn the seal on a transcript, diploma, or certificate of completion. The board adopted the following criteria as ways to identify students who are eligible for the seal:
  1. Be engaged in academic work in a productive way
  2. Demonstrate a competent understanding of U.S. and California constitutions; functions and governance of local governments; tribal government structures and organizations; the role of the citizen in a constitutional democracy; and democratic principles, concepts, and processes
  3. Participate in one or more informed civic-engagement projects that address real-world problems and require students to identify and inquire into civic needs or problems, consider varied responses, take action, and reflect on efforts
  4. Demonstrate civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions through self-reflection; and exhibit character traits that reflect civic-mindedness and a commitment to positively impact the classroom, school, community and/or society

For more information and to read the draft guidance for school districts, see Agenda Item 5 from the board meeting. The CDE has also updated its civic learning website and will post additional information about the seal as it becomes available.

Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum
California is required by Education Code Section 51226.7 to develop a model curriculum in ethnic studies. The model curriculum can be used as a guide for districts or schools that want to develop their own curriculum. The most current draft is available on the California Department of Education’s website. After the Instructional Quality Commission’s November meeting, the draft will be posted for another 45-day period of public review and comment before the State Board of Education takes action. State law requires the SBE to take final action by March 31.

Ethnic Studies High School Graduation Requirements (AB 331)
AB 331 would establish a high school ethnic studies graduation requirement. Completing this course could also satisfy one of the History-Social Science or English courses currently required for graduation. The bill passed the Legislature as of Aug. 31 and is awaiting Gov. Newsom’s signature. If signed, the requirement would begin with the graduating class of 2029–30, and districts would have until 2025-26 to begin offering an ethnic studies course. School districts would be able to adopt a locally developed ethnic studies course or utilize the statewide Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which is currently under development.

National History Day San Diego 
National History Day San Diego (NHDSD) offers exciting ways to get your students involved and motivated about acquiring and utilizing the skills they are developing via today's online learning. Students in grades 4-12 can take part in a proven project that will help them excel academically and allow their creativity to flourish. This year's National History Day theme is Communication in History: Key to Understanding. Students research a historical topic and choose how they wish to present their findings, emphasizing their own strengths and interests. Later, they can present their research findings in a documentary, a website, an exhibit, a performance, or in an historical paper.

The NHDSD teacher orientation will be at 4 p.m. Oct. 7, during which the new rules for the national and California competitions will be presented. For questions please visit, or contact Janet Mulder, NHDSD coordinator, for more information.
History-Social Science Community of Practice
You are invited to join the History-Social Science Community of Practice (CP). The CP brings together teachers, administrators, and other educators from across Southern California to learn and collaborate with each other. This year’s theme is political participation over time and in different contexts.

CP participants meet virtually for an afternoon session, during which they hear from a scholar, discuss the talk, and receive resources for teaching about the session's topic. Then, they are invited to participate in a follow up session to discuss resources and teaching ideas.

Our first session on Sept. 22 focused on voting. The featured speaker was Professor Edward Watts from UC San Diego. Dr. Watts discussed voting in Ancient Greece and Rome, and made connections to our system of democracy today.
  • The next session will be Oct. 29. The topic will be youth activism and will feature a content presentation by Professor Laura McEnaney from Whittier College. 
  • The third session will be Jan. 13, with a topic selected based on feedback from CP participants. 

Please visit the SDCOE History-Social Science Department’s Professional Learning page for more information and to register.
The professional learning opportunities and resources contained below are intended solely to provide access to information. The inclusion of an opportunity or resource is neither an endorsement nor recommendation by SDCOE.
Bob and Marion Wilson Teacher Institute of Colonial Williamsburg Fall 2020 Online Teacher Programs
The Teacher Institute at Colonial Williamsburg is opened registration for its two online teacher programs slated for October.
  • Teaching about Slavery and Race in the Colonial and American Revolutionary Periods: This five-week course for upper elementary and middle school teachers explores how to teach about slavery and race in the eighteenth century, with a primary focus on African American history.
  • Colonial Williamsburg Methods in the Classroom: This five-webinar series for upper elementary and middle school teachers explores the strategies Colonial Williamsburg uses to bring history to life and how to transfer those strategies into the classroom.

Facing History and Ourselves Workshops
As part of their response to COVID-19, Facing History and Ourselves is offering a series of on-demand webinars about teaching complex issues. More information on these seminars as well as other resources to support educators during this challenging time will be available on the Facing History website and on the events webpage. Some of the ongoing on-demand webinars include:
  • Choices in Little Rock 
  • Teaching Red Scarf Girl 
  • Getting Started with Holocaust and Human Behavior 

Online Workshops on the U.S. Constitution
The Los Angeles County Office of Education is inviting educators from across California to participate in monthly webinars it is conducting in partnership with the National Constitution Center. Below is a schedule of workshops and registration links.
If you have any questions or comments about The County Crier, please contact Matt Hayes.
Get up-to-the-minute information about what's happening at SDCOE and in our districts across the county.