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Civics Class Required For High School Graduation Will Push The Envelope

A civics makeover is unfolding in a school cafeteria on Chicago’s West Side, where some 40 Chicago Public School teachers are debating hot-button issues and role-playing as members and staffers of a “Presidential Commission on Immigration Reform.”

The lively simulation exercise, part of a three-day training session on reshaping civics instruction, is the kind of activity that educators statewide will have to teach now that a new law has elevated civics to a high school graduation requirement in 2016.

The civics law signed recently by Gov. Bruce Rauner creates the most prescriptive state graduation requirement on the books in Illinois, and has the potential to push students, families and even teachers out of their comfort zones, educators and policy experts say.