Timeline: The Rise of Action Civics

The National Association of Scholars upholds the standards of a liberal arts education that fosters intellectual freedom, searches for the truth, and promotes virtuous citizenship.

Timeline: The Rise of Action Civics


• In 1985, several influential university presidents founded Campus Compact to support student volunteerism and community service. Service-learning advocates took over Campus Compact’s campaign, and from that vantage point inserted service-learning into virtually every college in the nation. They then gave service-learning a new name—“civic engagement”—and used this new label as a way to replace the old civics curriculum with service-learning classes.

• In 1993, the reauthorization of the National and Community Service Act codified fiscal support for service-learning into federal law.

• In 1994, the Goals 2000: Educate America Act significantly extended federal control of state curriculums.

• In 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act significantly furthered federal control of state curriculums.

• In 2010, the Common Core State Standards Initiative established a tight bureaucratic framework over state curriculums.

• In 2011, the federally commissioned A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy's Future drafted the roadmap for imposing action civics on the nation.

• In 2012, the U.S. Education Department endorsed the vision of A Crucible Moment with its own Advancing Civic Learning and Engagement in Democracy.

• In 2013, the National Council for Social Studies issued the College, Career & Civic Life C3 Framework For Social Studies State Standards, linked to the Common Core. The C3 Standards gut traditional civics and require action civics.

• In 2015, Illinois passed a law to require students to take a stand-alone civics course including service-learning; the Illinois law, and a follow-up law in 2019, have become models for action civics proponents around the nation.

• In 2018, iCivics founded CivXNow to push for policy change to promote action civics.

• In 2018, Massachusetts passed a law to require students to take part in “civic engagement.”

• In 2020, federal legislators introduced the Educating for Democracy Act, which would provide a flood of federal money for action civics.

• In 2021, federal legislators re-introduced the Educating for Democracy Act as the Civics Secures Democracy Act.