Rhode Island to improve civics education to resolve lawsuit

Rhode Island will improve the way students are taught to participate in the political process in order to resolve a federal lawsuit over whether public school students have a constitutional right to a civic education, the state’s education department announced Friday.

The department said both sides in the suit have come to an agreement on how to strengthen Rhode Island’s civics education. The plaintiffs’ lead counsel, Michael Rebell, had been planning to ask the US Supreme Court to review the case—Friday was the deadline to do so.

Rebell said they’re hopeful that civics education will be greatly strengthened in Rhode Island and it will serve as a model for other states.

“Especially in these difficult political times that we’re living in, civic education is more important than ever,” he said. “And if this gets more attention on what schools can do, how they have a critical role in maintaining our democracy, then all our efforts would have been worth it.”

Lawyers for Rhode Island public school students and parents sued the governor and education officials in federal court in 2018. They argued that the state wasn’t preparing young people to fully participate in civic life and asked the federal court to confirm the constitutional right of all public school students to a civics education.

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