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 course is supposed to 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." (e.g., one and a half trimesters for districts following trimesters)
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 examination 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, consistent with the NJ Student Learning Standards for Social Studies (2020).
A Curriculum Guide with links to suggested lessons, activities, resources and assessments was then developed following the big inquiry questions and research on best practices to meet the goal of developing informed, engaged citizens. The 40-page Curriculum Guide is a living document which will be revised and enhanced over time. On-line and in-person professional development workshops will be on-going.
- Laura Wooten’s Law
- An Overview of the Middle School Civics Mandate
- Inquiry Framework for a Middle School Civics Course
- Curriculum Guide for a Middle School Civics Course
- Two quarters of civics - fall semester
- Two quarters of civics - spring semester
- Slides from Middle School Civics Workshops
- Differentiation for middle school social studies
- Suggested Practices
- Teaching Controversial Issues
- Media Literacy
Register for Workshops
The New Jersey Center for Civic Education is pleased to announce the following in-person workshops to assist teachers and administrators as they implement the new middle school civics education mandate.The workshops are free, full-day events from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. You may register by clicking on the links in the list below:
- October 10 - Rutgers University, Busch Campus, Piscataway
- November 8 - Rutgers University, Busch Campus, Piscataway
Sample materials will be provided at the full-day, in-person workshops. As of now, masks are required at all of the venues. We will keep registrants posted regarding any Covid requirements. In order to ensure that all teachers who wish to attend have an opportunity, please register for only one workshop.
You may register by clicking on the links in the list below:
The workshop will be held at the Busch Campus Center, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ. Directions may be found at https://civiced.rutgers.edu/contact-us . Parking information will be provided via email approximately one week before the workshop.
We live in a highly partisan era and teachers are concerned about how to address controversial issues in a non-partisan manner that creates a safe classroom environment. Media literacy is a key aspect of this. This workshop will provide content and strategies to help teachers address these issues. The workshop will run from 9:00 - 3:00. Sign-in will begin at 8:30 a.m.
Please wear a mask during the workshop. Unvaccinated participants will have to provide a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the workshop. Also please bring a computer. Internet access will be provided. Lunch and morning coffee will be provided.
The Structure of Government
The American Experience
The Role of the Citizen
Other Civics Programs
- New Jersey Student Mock Election
- New Jersey history and government lessons for middle school grades
- Project Citizen for middle school grades
- We the People for middle school grades
- New Jersey Bar Foundation
- Energizing Young Voters
The Middle School Curriculum team
- Cherylanne Amendola, Teacher, Montclair-Kimberly Academy, Montclair
- Michael Catelli, Social Studies Supervisor, Somerset Hills School District, Bernardsville
- Prof. James Daly, College of Education and Human Services, Seton Hall University
- Sarah David, Gaudineer Middle School, Springfield Public Schools
- Arlene Gardner, NJ Center for Civic Education, Rutgers University
- Faye Johnson, Teacher, Brimm Medical Arts High School, Camden City Schools
- Scott Kercher, Social Studies Supervisor, Sparta
- Robert O’Dell, NJ Center for Civic Education, Rutgers University
- Paul Pinero, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Westfield Public Schools
- Shea Richardson, Social Studies Supervisor, East Orange Public schools
- Prof. Beth Rubin, Rutgers University Graduate School of Education
- Michael Savino, Teacher, Ridgefield Park Junior-Senior High School
- John Terry, Social Studies Supervisor, Bernards Twp. Public Schools
- Christopher Zarr, National Archives