Dr. Shawn Healy, Democracy Program Director at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, outlines how the McCormick Foundation and others have made this legislation alive through a three-year implementation process.
In 2015, HB 4025 (Public Act 99-0434) was signed into law, requiring that Illinois high school students complete a standalone, semester-long civics course. The law goes on to say that civics “shall help young people acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives. Civics course content must include instruction on government institutions, the discussion of current and controversial issues, service learning, and simulations of democratic processes. School districts may utilize private funding available for the purposes of offering civics education.”
A separate law (Public Act 099-0485) was passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed by Governor Rauner provides further clarity on HB 4025’s effective date. The course mandate takes effect on July 1, 2016, and applies to incoming freshmen for the 2016-17 school year.