Civic Education Rhode Island

Volume I – Issue 4                                   Michael Trofi, Coordinator                                                August 2007

From the Coordinator:


·         Civic Education – Rhode Island continues to be active in a wide array of projects, programs and activities.  Civic education in Rhode Island has received a huge boost through the efforts of the Rhode Island Legislators’ Commission on Civic Education and the Rhode Island Department of Education.  Rhode Island is in the process of implementing legislation which will require all Rhode Island school districts to teach civic education (K-12) and Rhode Island History.  This effort has developed through the leadership of Senator Hanna Gallo and Representative Susan Story and the hard work of Deputy Commissioner of Education Todd Flaherty, Tracey Whitehead and other Department of Education personnel.  Rhode Island will be the 49th state to have viable, workable civic education standards.  Being a little bias, the Coordinator  believes Rhode Island has taken a giant step ahead of most states in this important effort.


Senator Gallo/Representative Story



·         Rhode Island Civic Education Standards are posted on the website under standards.

·         Please remember there are multiple civic education resources/information on the website.




School Violence Prevention Demonstration Program:


·         This year, SVPDP has reached all seven Providence, RI middle schools and has piloted a program for five different elementary schools (grade 5).  SVPDP integrates We the People/Project Citizen/Foundations of Democracy in an effort to promote learning experiences for students.  Providence is an every urban school district with a majority of its students speaking Spanish.  SVPDP has given teachers the opportunity to impact on all its students by providing “hands on learning” which gives students positive outlets to learn and flourish.  Next year, RI hopes to maintain grade 8 training and increase grade 5 training in an effort to reach more teachers/students.



 Rick Taylor’s class at Springfield, MS.  The students did a PC project and a PowerPoint presentation on “cyber bullying.”  In attendance were, Stephen Smith, RI State Representative, David Igilozzi, Providence Councilman, and a Providence School Department Technology official.



·         To demonstrate the direct link of literacy and civic education content, Rhode Island has aligned the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) literacy standards to its middle level WTP/PC/Foundations texts.  To view these alignments, please view 



      These Institutes are conducted at the Pell Center.  Classroom activities, meals, sleeping, etc. are all contained in the building.  The center of Newport is approximately 1 1/2 miles from this building.  If interested or if you can recommend someone, please do so A.S.A.P.  Timelines have been extended.


Project Citizen:


          The Rhode Island Project Citizen Showcase was conducted in June.  Rhode Island has a huge number of teachers/classes engaged in developing Project Citizen portfolios.  Project Citizen-RI had a commitment to conduct hearings for all classes that develop projects.  There were over 40 projects. 


          The individual class hearings were an exhausting endeavor.  Carlo Gamba and others were committed to view/hear each class.  Once that process was completed, toward the end of May, Rhode Island conducted its state showcase.


          The winning project concerned animal “spaying”.  A strong aspect of the project was that students volunteered their efforts at the local animal shelter.  They cared for and washed animals, cleaned pens and helped the animal control officers.  The students really got to know and understand animal control issues.  The class was led by their teacher, Tamara Paulo, a veteran Pc teacher.



Rhode Island showcase winning project







Civic Mission of Schools:


·         It is fair to say that Rhode Island’s engagement in the Congressional Conferences on Civic Education has been the catalyst for our state’s standards movement.  This conference has energized a wide spectrum of individuals and organizations to be active in promoting civic education.



Michael Trofi, State Facilitator, as part of a national panel discussion in Washington, DC with Jennifer Burns from Arizona and Steve Brognaw from Virginia on civic engagements.


·         If you are interested in participating in this national movement to promote the “civic mission of schools” please contact the Center for Civic Education’s California office (1-800-350-4223) or its Washington office (1-202-861-8800) or in Rhode Island (1-401-823-1680).

·         Of special note is the cooperation within the SVPDP programs which has a very strong and sharing network of coordinators.  The Coordinator would like to publicly thank Myron Yoder and Melissa Bell who are willing to share their work to align their effort to the literacy standards.  For example, they have aligned specific writing and reading (literature) strategies and activities to civic education content.  They do a fabulous job.


We the People:  The Citizen and the Constitution:

          Rhode Island conducted its state competition in March.  North Smithfield High School under the able leadership of Natalie O’Brien won the 2007 competition.  Many thanks to the Rhode Island schools/teachers/citizen judges who enhance the growth of civic education/civic understanding.

          There are two interesting notes about North Smithfield High School.   First, the students were all ninth graders and second, Natalie O’Brien is a remarkable teacher.  She wants to excel personally and as a teacher.  She always avails herself of local (RI), regional (MA) and national training (VA/MO/CA) civic education training.


            Natalie O’Brien far left and her students

Summer Institutes:

          Rhode Island will host two summer institutes at the Pell Center on the campus of Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island.


Pell Center at the Young Building


          The Institutes are Project Citizen (7/16 to 7/22/07) which is primarily for Northeastern states’ participants and We the People (7/24 to 8/1/07) is primarily for New Englanders.  Applications for PC are at while WTP can be found at



Professional Development:


          From time to time, various professional development opportunities are available and registrations close quickly.  To give you an idea, consider:


          September 2007       -         Civil Rights Institute – Birmingham, Alabama

-                      John Marshall – Richmond, Virginia

-                      James Madison – Montpelier, Virginia


Summer 2008 -         Project Citizen Institute

-                      We the People Institute

-                      National Endowment for Humanities

(a multitude of opportunities)


As information is gathered as to the exact times and dates, please check the website for information.


NAEP Report:


          The National assessment of Education Progress has released a “nation’s report card” on student basic knowledge of civic education.  Although the results were not good, they were predictable.


          Civic knowledge is increasing for 4th graders but not for older students.  A basic finding of the study is that the more time spent in civic education programs the higher the success rate (This must be rocket science!).


          Rhode Island’s commitment to civic education standards should have a positive effect on increasing civic knowledge and understanding civic participatory skills and civic responsibility.  Hopefully, Rhode Island can become a model for the country by having all students achieve excellence on their civic education report card.


          If you are interested in the entire NAEP report, go to http:/