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The current focus of school reform centers on college and career readiness, casting aside the original purpose of schools in this country-- preparing America’s youngest citizens to be informed and active participants in our democracy. Since 2006, seventeen Illinois high schools countered this trend and achieved recognition through the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition (ICMC) as Democracy Schools.

The Democracy Schools Initiative of the ICMC invites high schools to demonstrate commitment to their civic mission by completing a school-wide civic assessment and charting future plans for developing and sustaining high quality civic learning. Successful applicants are recognized through the ICMC and are invited to participate in a growing Democracy Schools network.

Democracy Schools embrace their mission to provide high quality civic learning opportunities for all students. Their leadership emphasizes civic learning through development of professional faculty and staff capacity, and proven civic learning practices are woven throughout the formal curriculum. Democracy Schools foster a school climate that nurtures and models civic dispositions and build reciprocal relationships within the surrounding community. From class discussion on current issues and democratic simulations to extracurricular and service learning opportunities, students experience first-hand the critical role they can play in shaping their government and society.