The Boston Bar Association (BBA) is pleased Governor Charlie Baker has signed An Act to Promote and Enhance Civic Engagement (S 2631) into law, recognizing the importance of providing robust civics education to every student in Massachusetts.
The new law establishes civics education requirements in public schools, outlining specific topics that must be included in civics curricula, and requiring all high schools and schools serving eighth graders to “provide not less than 1 student-led civics project for each student.” The Secretary of State’s office will also be charged with developing an enhanced voter registration program for high school students, allowing them to pre-register or register to vote at school. It will go into effect in the 2020-2021 school year.
The BBA Council voted to endorse the civics education bill earlier this year, and the BBA continued to track its progress as it made its way through the Legislature. You can read our letter to the Conference Committee here.
“We advocated for this outcome, and appreciated the broad, bipartisan support for this bill in the House and Senate,” BBA President Jon Albano, a partner at Morgan Lewis, said. “Teaching students civics enables them to become informed participants in government, an essential component of a functioning democracy.”
“This law is especially significant to the BBA because of its provision for students to learn about the composition and role of all three branches of government. Key institutions of a constitutional democracy – including the courts, the jury, and other critical aspects of our justice system – require the public’s understanding and trust to function properly.
We are grateful to past Senate President Harriette Chandler, State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and State Representative Alice Peisch for their leadership and support on this important piece of legislation.
You can learn more about this bill, its specific provisions, and the BBA’s support for civics education, on our Issue Spot blog.