Hyper-Partisanship and Civic Education: How Should the Next Generation Be Civically Prepared?

In Partnership With the Star Tribune and the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs

FREE EVENT | Download a PDF of the key takeaways

Do American students know enough about their civic rights and responsibilities? How can schools ramp up their civics instruction at a time when the American public is politically polarized and deeply distrustful of its own civic institutions? Join us for a live event that will explore current tensions in teaching students about civics and hash out ideas and recommendations for helping educators overcome them.

At this free half-day event at the Humphrey School in Minneapolis, educators and administrators, led by an expert facilitator, will get a chance to deliberate key tensions in the field of civics education and hear from reporters and others who’ve been following civics teaching in Minnesota and across the country. The conference kicks off a series of meetings across the country that are designed to yield recommendations for educators nationwide. Come and make your voice heard.


Jan. 25, 2020
11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. CST*

Humphrey School of Public Affairs
301 19th Ave S
Minneapolis, Minn. 55455

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*Agenda and times subject to change. Check back regularly for updates.

Registration for this event is now closed.


All times represent central standard time in Minneapolis, Minn.

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. | Lunch and Registration
Lunch provided.

12:30 p.m. | Welcoming Remarks

12:35 to 12:45 p.m. | What We Learned: Education Week’s Citizen Z Project
In this presentation, Education Week Assistant Editor Stephen Sawchuk shares lessons from Education Week’s 18-month initiative on civics education and quizzes the audience on their knowledge of students’ Constitutional rights.

12:45 to 1:15 p.m. | The Local Picture With the Star-Tribune
Denise Johnson, a Star Tribune editorial writer, sits down with Mary Cathryn Ricker, Minnesota’s Commissioner of Education, to discuss the state-of-play at the local and state level.

1:15 to 1:45 p.m.
Martín Carcasson, a communication studies professor at Colorado State University and the event facilitator, begins a discussion of deliberative democracy and prepares attendees for discussions to follow.

1:45 to 2:55 p.m. | Table Talks
A mix of educators from rural and urban areas of the state, and others, develop recommendations to be shared with the larger group, and later molded into an issues guide for civics education. Potential discussion questions include:

• How much should civics instruction emphasize hands-on learning?
• Do polarizing policy issues have a place in classroom civics discussions?
• How much should a school (or district) be run as a democratic institution, and what is the role of the students in that institution?
• How can we best evaluate the quality of the civics instruction we deliver to students? Should we?
• What is the role of civics education in helping students learn to discern fake news and guard against selective exposure and confirmation bias in their own news consumption?

2:55 p.m. to 3 p.m. | Wrap Up
Through gallery walks or digital surveys, attendees come away with a sense of the room.

Guests, Speakers, and Moderators

Martín Carcasson
Professor, Communication Studies department, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo.

Carcasson is the founder and director of the CSU Center for Public Deliberation (CPD). His interests are focused on rhetoric and contemporary public affairs, and the interdisciplinary theory and practice of deliberative democracy and collaborative governance. The CPD serves as an impartial resource for the community dedicated to enhancing local democracy in Northern Colorado through improved public communication, community problem solving, and collaborative decision-making. He trains students to serve as impartial facilitators, who then work with local governments, school boards, and community organizations to design, facilitate, and report on public forums on important issues. Carcasson's research has been published in Rhetoric & Public Affairs, the International Journal of Conflict Resolution, and the Quarterly Journal of Speech.

Denise Johnson
Editorial Writer, The Star-Tribune

Johnson has been an editorial writer at the Star Tribune since 1996. Before joining the editorial board, she was a reporter, editor, columnist and editorial writer at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and wrote editorials for the Miami Herald. She currently writes about urban affairs and a variety of other topics, but specializes in covering K-12 education.

Johnson has also worked for the American Society of Newspaper Editors in Washington, D.C., and delivered diversity training locally and nationally. Earlier in her career, she hosted and produced news and issues public affairs shows on Twin Cities public television. The recipient of several journalism awards, she was honored in 2007 with the Frank Premack Graven award for career contributions to public journalism.

Mary Cathryn Ricker
Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Education

A native of Hibbing, Minn., Ricker is a National Board Certified middle school English teacher with over a decade of classroom experience. She has taught in classrooms around the globe, including St. Paul and St. Cloud, South Korea, and Yemen. She previously served as executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers and as the president of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 28.

Her teaching and leadership skills have been recognized with a number of other honors, including receiving the Education Minnesota Peterson-Schaubach Outstanding Leadership Award, qualifying as a semifinalist for the NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence, and serving as a featured contributor in the Annenberg Foundation's national professional development series, "Write in the Middle."

Stephen Sawchuk
Associate Editor, Education Week

Sawchuk covers superintendents, district management, school safety, and civics education for Education Week. He joined the newspaper in 2008 and formerly covered the teaching profession, curriculum and instruction. He holds degrees from Georgetown and Columbia universities and was a 2017 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan.

Debra Viadero
Assistant Managing Editor, Education Week

Viadero is an assistant managing editor at Education Week, where she focuses on the school district leader audience, education research, and special student populations. Before becoming an editor, she was Education Week's longtime education research reporter. She has also written about teaching, special education, and youth-related issues. Viadero joined Education Week in 1986 after spending several years as an award-winning writer for daily newspapers in Maryland and Delaware. She has a B.S. in journalism from Boston University.


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