On July 23, 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed “Laura Wooten’s” Law, which mandates that every New Jersey school district offer a course of study in civics in middle school beginning in the 2022-2023 school year and directs the New Jersey Center for Civic Education to provide a curriculum guide, resources, and professional development. The legislation explains that the course shall address "the values and principles underlying the American system of constitutional democracy; the function and limitations of government; and the role of a citizen in a democratic society." The civics course must include "a minimum of two quarters of instruction, or the equivalent."
The Center organized a team of social studies supervisors and teachers and university faculty from across the state to create an Inquiry Framework to help school districts develop the required middle school civics course. The Inquiry Framework offers a coherent scope and sequence focused on the core values and principles of democracy, the structure and limits of the American democratic republic as set forth in our founding documents, an assessment of how well we have met our democratic ideals, and the role of the citizen in a democratic society. It is structured in the format of big inquiry questions about both content—including concepts such as consent of the government, the rule of law, civic virtue, the common good, justice, equality, and diversity—and practices, such as evaluating sources, seeking diverse perspectives, engaging in civil discourse and taking informed action.
In addition to virtual and in-person workshops and webinars about middle school civics, the Center also offers specific programs—such as We the People and Project Citizen—which include statewide student competitions and showcases.
The Structure of Government
The Role of the Citizen
- Laura Wooten’s Law
- The middle school team
- What’s really important: Overview of middle school civics
- Inquiry Framework for a Middle School Civics Course
- Full year civics curriculum guide for middle school
- Civics and financial literacy for middle school
- Civics and U.S. History for middle school
- New Jersey Student Mock Election
- New Jersey history and government lessons for middle school grades
- Project Citizen for middle school grades
- Suggested Practices
- Teaching Controversial Issues
- We the People for middle school grades