Blue IDS 3.jpeg

Democracy Schools Network

Monthly Update

June, 2022


Hope you are enjoying your summer. Carry on...



DSN announcements, upcoming events, Professional Development opportunities, and information about activities in our Democracy Schools:

~Annual Convening. September 15, 2022. We've gathered an impressive list of speakers to help you explore "Media Literacy and Civic Learning Across Disciplines." Please register here.  If you have questions, please email Sue. 

~Civic Learning Across Disciplines database

This is our final ask for examples from our schools that demonstrate civic learning across the curriculum. Whether it is a project that has already happened, is being planned, or is simply a hope for the future, we are interested in hearing about it. Just a few details would help build this network resource. Thank you.

~New timeline for DSN Grants (formerly known as RFP Stipends)

The first funding period for these grants is now closed. The second funding period will open up on September 15 and continue until November 1.

Many thanks to our marvelous members and steady civic partners for a productive, engaging, and thoughtful 2021-22 school year:
  • For their guidance and constant support of DSN activities, our Advisory Council members: Carl Brownell, Tracy Freeman, Jason Janczak, Stacey Posey, Billson Rasavongxay, Pat Riley, and Melinda Wilson. 

  • For their enthusiastic participation in November's book club discussion on Not Light, But Fire by Matthew Kay: Shelby Riha, Whitney Wilda, Carla Ordonez, Tom McManamen, Matthew Holm, Elexus Thurman, Julie Many, Maureen Leece, Rich Moore, Alicia Dailey, Anton Borchrt, Carl Brownell, Stacy Payne, Christina Jakubas, and Scott Levenertz.

  • For our civic partners who gave their time and expertise in our CLAD series to assist our members in exploring the elements of the Illinois Democracy Schools model: Dr. Shawn Healy (Senior Director, Policy and Advocacy at iCivics), Laura Tavares (former Program Director for Organizational Learning and Thought Leadership at Facing History and Ourselves), Dr. Paula McAvoy (Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education, N.C. State University), Dr. Siegel-Stechler (Senior Researcher at CIRCLE Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University), and Dr. Joe Kahne (the Ted and Jo Dutton Presidential Professor for Education Policy and Politics and Co-Director of the Civic Engagement Research Group CERG at the University of California, Riverside)

  • For our DSN grant recipients and their generosity in sharing their projects with our membership at the April webinar: Kathy Lencioni, Kelly VanHout, Vince Willaredt, Barbara Lindauer, Andrew Martinek, Billson Rasavongxay, Tom McManamen, Melinda Wilson, Tracy Freeman, Jen Hamler, Jocelyn Vale, Dan Korntheuer, and Richard Burrell.

  • For their initiative, energy, and imagination in our book study of Dear Citizen Math: Kyla Maletsky and Steve Miller.

  • For the impressive number of our DSN members who completed training with the Guardians of Democracy courses on Current and Controversial Issue Discussion, Informed Action through Service Learning, and Simulations of Democratic Processes. 

  • And to all of you who attended our webinars, emailed us with your stories and concerns, responded to our surveys, visited our website, watched our recordings, and let us know that you were glad to be a part of our network. 

We extend our gratitude for all you contribute to our organization, your commitment to civic learning, and your tenacity, grit, and endurance during the past two years.  


For summer consideration:


  • EdSurge is offering a writing fellowship for teachers for upcoming school year. As a fellow, you will explore how your needs have changed, how your students’ needs have changed, and how your school community has supported student and teacher well-being as challenges in education persist. The stories you write will be rooted in practice and will leverage your personal experience and professional expertise. See here for more details. 
  • No, Fewer Books, Less Writing Won't Add Up to Media Literacy
  • ASCD's summer reading list here.
  • Things you learn while traveling

Enhance your classroom practice with these five-week asynchronous, micro-credential courses hosted on Canvas. Explore strategies and resources to create a classroom climate in which there are equitable opportunities for ALL students to engage in the proven practices of civic education delineated in the middle and high school course requirements: current and controversial issue discussions, simulations of democratic processes, and informed action through service learning. Learn from academic experts like Dr. Diana Hess, Dr. Paula McAvoy, Dr. Joe Kahne, Dr. Jane Lo, Dr. Walter Parker, and more! Collaborate with fellow participants to support brave, civil, and reflective civic engagement.

These introductory courses (Bronze level) will be offered in the fall:

September 6-October 21: Current and Controversial Issue Discussion

October 3-November18: Simulations of Democratic Processes

November 1-December 16: Informed Action through Service Learning

For those who have already completed the Bronze level, additional courses (at Silver and Gold level), are also beginning in the fall. Details on our website.

We hope you will encourage colleagues from other schools to consider becoming an Illinois Democracy School (IDS) during the 2022-2023 school year. The process will involve a year-long self-assessment of the state of civic learning in their school, administration of surveys to both staff and students, and a school visit by the IDS staff. Supports include an orientation, a mentor to guide the team through the process, monitoring by IDS staff, assistance with data analysis, and financial support for certain expenses that might be incurred during the process.  

For educators who are interested in improving the civic learning landscape in their schools, we believe our model is a proven one. We also offer a network of like-minded teachers, robust professional development for proven practices in civics, funding opportunities, access to expert civic partners, and a trove of vetted resources. Please have interested folks email Sue at 

Visit our Website
Facebook  Twitter