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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.

Register for Workshops

The New Jersey Center for Civic Education conducted multiple regional workshops regarding the middle school mandate during 2022 and 2023. Additional workshops are listed below. Please feel free to contact the Center should you have questions about implementing the mandate.

Engaging Students in Middle School Civics, May 9, 2024, Rutgers University

Additional Workshops

Project Citizen, March 5, 2024, Rutgers University

This workshop will train teachers on how to utilize Project Citizen to help students develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions to assume the important role of “citizen” in our democracy. Click on the registration link for more details.


Other Civics Programs

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


Contact us with any questions: Arlene Gardner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Robert O’Dell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To subscribe to our listserv and receive updates about curriculum guides, please email Robert O'Dell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..