July 2009 Press Releases
Secretary of State
Markowitz Releases Report on Civics Education in Vermont - July
Secretary of State Markowitz Announces Project to Provide Phone Cards to
- July 9, 2009
Secretary of State Deb Markowitz Releases Report that Shows Today’s Youth More Civically Engaged Because of Civics Education Efforts.
Markowitz addresses the National Civics Summit in Minneapolis with data showing that civics education makes a difference.
Montpelier. Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz has returned from the National Civics Summit in Minneapolis where she addressed national leaders in civics education and secretaries of state from around the country. Markowitz released a report titled “The Impact of Civics Education on the Attitudes, Behaviors and Disposition of Youth.” The report analyzes the effect of mock election programs on young people’s attitudes about government, politics and their own ability to be engaged and active citizens.
Markowitz said, “The report shows that the newest generation of Vermont adults will be more active and engaged than the ones before it. It also affirms the value of civic education programs and, in particular, mock election programs that teach kids the importance of voting.”
In 2007 the Secretary of State’s Office undertook a study of Vermont students to assess the impact of the Vermont Votes for Kids mock election program on civic attitudes, behaviors and dispositions. With the assistance of the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, the entire senior class of 2007 was surveyed. Students answered questions about their participation in mock election programs during their school career and how they intend to participate in the democratic process in the future. Students who were exposed to mock election programs were significantly more likely to say they are better informed about politics, understand the issues facing our country, and will vote in the future. Students who accompanied a parent to the polling place scored even higher, confirming the belief that parental involvement is a key factor in shaping civic attitudes.
“These findings demonstrate the value of investing in civics education programs like Vermont Votes for Kids,” said Markowitz. “When we teach young people the mechanics and value of voting, and provide them opportunities to develop and practice the skills necessary to be engaged citizens, we see results.”
Markowitz continued, “It is our hope that the findings of the VSAC survey and this report will encourage educators, government officials, and opinion leaders to see the importance of civics education so that in future years every Vermont student is given an opportunity to participate in a civics education and mock election program.”
A copy of the report is available by calling 802-828-2148 or by visiting the Secretary of State’s website at www.sec.state.vt.us/Mock_Election_Report.pdf.
The Impact of Civics Education on the Attitudes, Behaviors and Disposition of Youth
Key Facts and Findings
Vermont’s Mock Election Program.
Correlation Between Participation in a Mock Election Program and Civic Skills, Knowledge and Disposition.
A. The key finding of the VSAC survey is that there is a strong correlation between students’ participation in a mock election program and their positive feelings about their civic skills, knowledge and dispositions.
B. Students who participated in mock election programs reported greater civic knowledge and skills than their counterparts who did not experience a mock election program.
· Students who participated in mock elections were 78 percent more likely to say that they had learned how to research candidates for political office than those who had not participated in a mock election program.
· Students who participated in mock elections were 65 percent more likely to say that they had learned how to examine social problems than those who had not participated in a mock election program.
· Students who participated in mock elections were 59 percent more likely to agree with the statement “I learned how our elections work” than those who did not participate in a mock election program.
C. Students who experienced more than one mock election reported a better understanding of how to solve problems in their communities than their non-participating counterparts.
· These students were 55 percent more likely to report that they had learned ways of addressing community problems than students who had never experience a mock election.
· These students were 77 percent more likely to say that they had learned how political action groups can solve problems than students who had never experience a mock election.
· These students were 61 percent more likely than non-participants to agree that they had learned about individuals’ responsibility to community.
D. Students who experienced more than one mock election reported at a higher rate than students who did not participate in a mock election that they would vote in a state or presidential election.
Contact: Missy Shea
of State Deb Markowitz Announces the Guard Card Project to Provide
Guard Card project is part of a new Vermont
Secretary of State Service-for-Service
Montpelier. Today, Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz announced a new program – the Guard Card Project – to provide free Verizon telephone cards to all deployed Vermont National Guardsmen and women. In partnership with the Vermont National Guard, the USO (United Service Organizations) and Verizon, the Office of the Secretary of State has created a program to engage students in service learning projects that will help guard families by putting a free, 100 minute calling card in the pocket of every soldier who is deployed as a result of the mobilization order announced by Adjutant General Michael Dubie last week.
Secretary of State Deb Markowitz said, “We are pleased to announce this new program to help our citizen soldiers keep in touch with their families while they are serving overseas. With over 1,500 Vermont National Guardsmen and women to be deployed to Afghanistan beginning next fall, every Vermont community will be impacted. When we learned how many Vermont families would be impacted by this historic deployment, we wanted to organize an effort that would bring our schools and communities together to help support our troops and their families.”
Missy Shea, Secretary of State’s Office Civic Education Coordinator said, “Communities across the state will feel this deployment. In many schools students will be impacted when a parent, or another loved one, is deployed. We thought a great service learning project would be to link students with guard families to offer support.”
Markowitz said, “We know through research that students who have had opportunities to practice the skills of civic engagement will be more likely to be active citizens in the future. Our Guard Card service initiative provides this kind of learning opportunity. It is our hope that teachers will use this project to help students learn the meaning and importance of service in our communities.”
Shea explained that the original concept of the project was for students to provide assistance to guard families – either through direct service such as babysitting, stacking wood and mowing lawns, or by raising money to help buy long distance phone cards for each soldier who is being deployed to make it easier for them to keep in touch with their families.” Shea explained that when Verizon was approached with the phone card idea, they offered to provide the calling cards for free through a promotional program they had established with the USO.
Shea says it was a pleasure working with Verizon. “The company does a lot to support the troops. Their partnership with the USO is what’s providing these cards. The fact that Vermont soldiers have a back-up way to stay in touch with their families during deployment is incredibly helpful. We very much appreciate the generosity of Verizon and the USO.”
Major Randall Gates, Director of the Vermont National Guard State Family Readiness Program, and himself a soldier who will be deployed, adds, "This calling card endeavor is a tremendous showing of community support for our soldiers. While some of our soldiers may use other communication technologies such as instant messaging or personal video, all of our soldiers will benefit greatly from these phone cards. The soldiers will be able to use the cards during their out-of-state mobilization training or use them for a call from Afghanistan. We commend Verizon and the USO. Our airmen, soldiers and Family Readiness Program have benefited from the ideas generated by Secretary Deb Markowitz's office, and we look forward to further collaboration."
Now that the cards have been donated, it opens even greater opportunity for schools to develop other service-learning projects in support of the soldiers and their families. According to Shea, some schools have already been inspired by the Guard Card project to raise money to help pay for the distribution of the cards. Benson Village School 3rd and 4th graders have designed phone card envelopes with special messages for the guardsmen and women. At Cavendish Elementary, students hosted an “Ed-u-thon”, playing learning games through the night to raise $1,400 they will donate. Beginning this fall, the Office of the Secretary of State will be rolling out the Service-for-Service program to link schools with guard family support efforts in their communities.
For more information about the Guard Card or related school-based service learning projects, please contact Missy Shea, Civic Education Coordinator, Office of the Secretary of State.