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Budget Summary FY2009

Outside Section 106
Data Current as of:  6/22/2009




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Special Commission on Civic Engagement

SECTION 106.   (a) There shall be a special commission on civic engagement and learning consisting of 3 members of the senate, 1 of whom shall be the senate chair of the joint committee on education, 1 of whom shall be a member of the majority party and 1 of whom shall be a member of the minority party who shall be appointed by the minority leader; provided, however, that 1 member of the senate shall be designated as co-chair of the commission; 3 members of the house of representatives, 1 of whom shall be the house chair of the joint committee on education, 1 of whom shall be a member of the majority party and 1 of whom shall be a member of the minority party who shall be appointed by the minority leader; provided, however, that 1 member of the house shall be designated as co-chair of the commission; the director of the legislative education office, or his designee; the chancellor of higher education, or his designee; the commissioner of education, or his designee; the president of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, or his designee; the president of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, or his designee; the president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, or his designee; the president of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, or his designee; the president of the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies, or his designee; the president of the Massachusetts League of Women Voters, or his designee; the president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, or his designee; the Massachusetts state coordinator of the Center for Civic Education; a representative of local government appointed by the Massachusetts Municipal Association; a representative of the judicial branch appointed by the chief administrative justice of the trial court; the president of the Massachusetts Secondary Schools Administrators Association, or his designee; and 6 persons to be appointed by the governor, 1 of whom shall be the dean of a school of education or chair of a department of education skilled in the preparation of teachers, 1 of whom shall have expertise in adult education, 1 of whom shall be a scholar in the field of civic education, 1 of whom shall have expertise in curriculum development with special emphasis on civic learning, 1 of whom shall have expertise in the field of civic engagement of youth and 1 of whom shall have expertise in service learning.

(b) The organizational session of the commission shall be convened by the co-chairs not later than 60 days after the effective date of this act whether or not all of the governor's designees have been appointed and qualified.

(c) The special commission shall make an investigation and study of the status of civic engagement and learning including, but not limited to: (1) an assessment of the status of civic education from kindergarten through undergraduate college education, with particular attention to compliance by agencies of public education and public higher education with section 2 of chapter 71 of the General Laws and section 2A of chapter 73 of the General Laws, including an assessment of the civic knowledge of graduates of public high schools; (2) an investigation of the opportunities available to students for service learning that develops an understanding of the relationship of those experiences with democratic government and a review of programs that teach civic engagement knowledge and skills that are essential to the development of active citizens; (3) an investigation of the status of public and private programs that promote civic engagement and learning including, but not limited to, Student Government Day established in section 12M of chapter 6 of the General Laws and how those programs could be enhanced or expanded through cooperation among themselves and with other entities such as schools and colleges, and through additional resources from public or private sources to be more effective and generally available to a larger number of students or the population at large; (4) an assessment of best practices in civic education in the United States that could serve as models for improving civic engagement and learning in the commonwealth; (5) an assessment of the implementation of the history and social studies curriculum frameworks by the department of education and school districts, including recommendations for the development and assessment of practical skills for civic engagement that are complementary to the knowledge-based aspects of the frameworks; (6) an assessment of the need for a permanent entity to promote civic engagement by a responsible citizenry and to encourage the building of partnerships to enhance the teaching and learning of the principles of representative democracy; and (7) any other matters that the special commission considers relevant to the fulfillment of its mission and purpose.

(d) The special commission may conduct public hearings to gather information and to raise civic awareness, including the sponsorship of statewide or regional conferences involving educators, students or the public at large. The department of education and the board of higher education shall provide staff and other resources as the commission and those agencies consider appropriate. The special commission shall make its final report and recommendations, if any, together with drafts of legislation necessary to carry those recommendations into effect, by filing the same with the joint committee on education not later than January 1, 2009. The special commission may make such interim reports as it considers appropriate.