scenic picture from Washington state
SubjectsGovernance › Local Government Education for Youth
Reviewed 03/2011

Local Government Education for Youth

Contents

Introduction

Many states have similar standards for social studies and civics education and these focus primarily on the subjects of history, geography, and governance at the national level. Often these standards do not explicitly describe learning goals that incorporate the study of students' communities, local issues, and local institutions which have the greatest proximity to their daily lives. Most social studies curriculums emphasize the governing principles of the nation's founders, the drafting of the national constitution, and a macro-view of United States history as the framework to prepare students to become effective citizens. For students in Washington State, studies about local government and community issues have remained relatively sparse and underdeveloped. Fortunately, there are some examples of successful programs, studies, and activities that can help offer ideas and serve as models upon which to build efforts in local government education for youth.

One approach to helping students understand local government is through youth participation activities. There are a great number of programs in Washington State and nation-wide involving youth participation. There are a variety of programs such as the inclusion of youths in local government committees, youth advisory councils, youth service programs, volunteer programs, workforce preparation and more. Many of these efforts are thriving in Washington. (see MRSC page Youth Participation in Local Government)

Washington State Government Education Programs and Resources

Local Government Education Programs

Washington State

  • Bellevue Youth Link - is a youth leadership program sponsored by the city Parks and Community Service Department and Bellevue Public Schools. Founded in 1990, Youth Link gives youth an active voice in the community and an opportunity to make a difference!
  • Bellingham Environmental Education - Provides factual, balanced information about water resources in order to foster responsible action and stewardship.
  • Port of Seattle Sea-Air School - Provides an introduction to the Port of Seattle through tours and classes. Also partners with related businesses such as Argosy Cruises of Seattle to provide interactive field-trip experiences.
  • Auburn Solid Waste & Recycling Division - Outreach and Education - The City Solid Waste and Recycling Division visits schools to provide educational presentations directed to several age groups. Also loans videos educating about the division.
  • Richland Environmental Education Outreach Program - Offers classroom of group presentations, curriculum resources, and tours of city facilities.

Out of State

  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources Education Site - Includes complete educational programs such as Where Do We Grow from Here? - A Teacher's Resource on Growth and Its Impacts on Maryland. Some programs are produced in cooperation with a comprehensive network of partners and sponsors. (see Complete program list)
  • Rockville, MD Kidsville - Website designed to educate kids about local government, environment and community.
  • South Australia Local Stuff - Website information to youths about local government. Includes curriculum units and resources for instructors and government officials. The site also emphasizes career information about local government employees.
  • St. Louis, MO Missouri Youth Engaged in Local Government (MY LOGO) - Citizenship Education Clearing House (CECH) at the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Education. Adaptable curriculums for teaching students about local government in Missouri. Website includes online handbook and resources for instructors, recommended steps for instructors to begin their own program, and recommended for how local government officials can get involved.
  • Illinois Tomorrow's Leaders: Understanding Illinois Local Government - University of Illinois Extension's Local Government Information and Education Network (LGIEN). A high-school curriculum designed to help students discover how Illinois local governments solve the problems close to them.
  • Fairfax County, VA Youth Leadership Program - Provides selected high school students with an opportunity to take part in local government education program combined with internship-style leadership obligation for high school credit.

Standards for Civics Education

Civic Education Organizations

Need more information?

Feel free to Ask MRSC. Washington cities, counties, and our contract partners can call or email MRSC for more information and advice - free of charge.