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Uplift High School Honored as 'Democracy School,' Receives Civics Funding

By Josh McGhee | September 24, 2015 5:41am
 Uplift Community High School was one of 10 Illinois schools to be recognized with the distinction.
Uplift Community High School was one of 10 Illinois schools to be recognized with the distinction.
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DNAinfo/Adeshina Emmanuel

UPTOWN — An Uptown high school was recently recognized for preparing its students "for informed, effective engagement in our democracy" by the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition.

Uplift High School, 900 W. Wilson Ave., was one of 10 schools in Illinois to be recognized as a "Democracy School" by the organization. Francis W. Parker and Westinghouse College Prep were also bestowed with the honor, according to a news release.

"Our Democracy Schools network spans the state and represents its rich diversity," said Shawn Healy, chair of the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition, a leading funder of civic learning initiatives.

Democracy Schools provide "students with authentic experiences in the rights, responsibilities and tensions of a constitutional democracy" equipping them "with the knowledge skills and dispositions necessary for informed and effective engagement," the news release said.

Since 2006, 41 high schools in Illinois have earned the distinction by completing a schoolwide civic assessment. Schools with the distinction will receive funding from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, according to the release.

"With the emerging civic course requirement in Illinois, our 2015 Democracy schools stand as models for their peers throughout the state to emulate," Healy said.

During the summer, the state Senate passed legislation requiring students to take a semester of civics as a graduation requirement. The stand alone course "would involve discussions of current events and controversial issues, community service, and simulations of the democratic process" with the goal, according to legislation, of helping students "acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives," the legislation states, The Tribune reports.

When the issues of funds for required classes, the McCormick Foundation was one of several non profits that "pledged to contribute at least $1 million annually for three years for teacher training in civics across the state," according to the Tribune. Rauner signed the bill on Aug. 21 and it is effective Jan. 1, 2016, according to the Illinois General Assembly.

The full list of winners includes: Antioch Community High School, Francis W. Parker, Granite City High School, Marion High School, O'Fallon High School, Oswego High School, Oswego East High School, Prairie Ridge High School, Uplift Community High School and Westinghouse College Prep.

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