School Curricula on Local Government
The Institute for Local Government, which is the nonprofit research and education affiliate of the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties - collaborated with numerous organizations to develop the Picture Yourself in Local Government Student Guide, which is designed for fifth through 12th grade students and covers the history, organization and people involved in California local governments. Chapters include student and class activities, thought-provoking questions designed to check student understanding, and a comprehensive vocabulary guide.
In April 2011, the Colorado Municipal League (CML) and the Special District Association of Colorado announced a new resource to help elementary, middle and high school teachers in Colorado easily find curricular materials that meet state social studies and civics standards. Developed in partnership with Colorado Counties, Inc., and written by teachers, "Lessons on Local Government" offers a variety of lessons plans and classroom activities that teachers can use to educate students about the role of municipal government in their communities.
Published by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities in cooperation with the University of Connecticut's Institute of Public Service, Local Government in Connecticut is a book designed for high school and college students that examines the inner workings of local government, including governance, management, administration, finances, operations, municipal services, education, planning and zoning, and openness in local government.
The Florida League of Cities (FLC) offers a wide range of resources to help local officials improve civic education in their cities. These include:
- "The ABCs of City Government," an education supplement for teachers of grades 2-5;
- "My City: I'm Part of it, I'm Proud of It!," a booklet for older students produced in partnership with the John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government that contains one week of lessons and activity sheets on city government that teachers can present during Florida City Government Week in October;
- "Cities in the Classroom," an in-depth curriculum developed in partnership with the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship that engaged local officials in structured programs aligned with state civics standards to teach students about city government;
- The "Getting to Know Your Florida Cities" training DVD, which is provided to cities, schools and newly elected officials;
- Former FLC President Carmine Priore's "Building Citizenship in the Community: Back to Basics" campaign to increase civic awareness and participation; and
- The Municipal Brain Bowl, a competition for teams of high school students held in conjunction with Florida Cities Government Week that tests students' knowledge of local government.
The Partnership for Local Government Education, a collaboration among the University of Illinois Extension, the Illinois Municipal League, Township Officials of Illinois, and the Illinois Association of County Board Members and Commissioners has produced a curriculum to educate students about local government called "Tomorrow's Leaders: Understanding Illinois Local Government." Designed for high school students, the curriculum consists of eight units that explain various aspects of local government, including city finances, public safety, infrastructure, and civic engagement. The curriculum has been used in Illinois schools since 2005.
The League of Kansas Municipalities (LKM) has developed several civic education resources, including a "My City, My Home" coloring book to introduce third grade students to services that cities provide, and a textbook entitled "Local Government in Kansas" for use by seventh graders developed in partnership with the Kansas Association of City/County Management, the Kansas Association of Counties, the Kansas Association of School Boards, and the state Department of Education to develop and distribute LKM also worked with the Kansas Board of Education to incorporate local government as part of the state curriculum standards.
In collaboration with the City of Saco, Maine, and Jobs for Maine's Graduates (JMG) - a career exploration and preparatory program for high school students - the Maine Municipal Association (MMA) has launched a new civic education pilot project in four high schools. The Municipal Literacy Project will help these schools develop a curriculum for a broader civic education program that will be available next year in 62 high schools served by JMG. The project received a $5,000 grant from the Maine Community Foundation to develop the curriculum, and each school is developing its own components, which may include job shadowing, community service, interviews of municipal officials, and visits to town offices.
As part of a "Local Government Begins with You" campaign, MMA previously partnered with the Maine Council for the Social Studies to provide teachers and students of all grades with lessons and primary resource materials in their study of local government in Maine. Resources include a textbook and a flash presentation both entitled "Local Government in Maine." Finally, MMA has produced a poster titled Municipal Government in Maine that shows "how it works, who pays for it and where the money goes."
The Maryland Municipal League provides teachers with a "study guide" containing review questions, activity guides for organizing a mock city council meeting and creating imaginary cities and towns, and other ideas to help youth learn about local government. In addition, the league offers third grade and ninth grade curricula for social studies teachers, with information tailored to individual counties' municipalities.
The Minnesota City/County Management Association (MCMA) has developed local government curriculum units and links to curricular components created by MCMA members and the Michigan Civics Institute.
The North Carolina City & County Management Association published the textbook, Local Government in North Carolina for teachers in North Carolina's public schools.
The Texas Municipal League (TML) offers curricula, teachers' guides, and activity handouts to help teachers educate elementary, middle, and junior high school students about local government. "Our Town, Texas" uses interactive classroom activities to help students master the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for Social Studies and History and follows the guidelines for the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS). The guide was written and pilot tested by teachers, and includes five K-1 activities, ten grade 2-5 activities, and 17 middle school activities, which are independent and can be taught separately or as a group.
The guide was published by the Texas Foundation for Local Government, which is the educational foundation of the Texas City Management Association (TCMA), a TML affiliate organization. City managers in Texas provided the impetus to the creation of the curricula so that the next generation would understand how city government works after they retired. In 2006, the TML also published an article on "Twenty-Five Ways City Officials Can Help Youngsters Learn about Local Government," in Texas Town and City.
The Utah League of Cities and Towns has developed a curriculum on local government for 4th and 7th grade students called "This Must Be Utah!" The curriculum describes how Utah's cities are planned and developed, the structure of local government, and how cities and towns meet citizens' needs. The guide was created to be flexible to support teachers' needs while at the same time supporting the Utah State Board of Education core curriculum. ULCT has distributed 3,000 of the guides to social studies teachers to ensure that there is one for every classroom. The Utah City Management Association and Zions Bank both helped support development and production of the guide.
ULCT has several other innovative programs and materials for educating youth about local government. For younger children, the league has produced a poster that asks them to find 15 services that their cities provide. ULCT has also hired a local media personality to produce a video for social studies teachers to see how much the average Utah resident knows about city government.