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K-12 Civics Education


In order that men may be prepared for self-government their apprenticeship must commence in childhood.  The great moral attribute of self-government cannot be born and matured in a day; and if school children are not trained to it, we only prepare ourselves for disappointment.

- Horace Mann, 1860

Teachers and administrators of K-12 civics programs have easy access to the level of government that has the greatest and most immediate impact on our lives: local government.  Our local governments are also the most accessible to students and the community.  Students can easily attend community and council meetings, visit public works facilities, ride with public safety officers, or even see streets being paved.

As part of our Next Generation strategy, ICMA is building and collecting resources to help our youngest students understand local governmental institutions, and promote widespread participation in civic affairs and self-governance.  The earlier students learn about the impact that local government has on their lives and how much their voices and votes make a difference, the better for all of us.

While we are building capacity of our K-12 programs, please explore the resources listed below that will help elementary, middle and high school teachers of local government build a curriculum with lesson plans and activities for each of the elementary, middle and high school grade levels.

Click here for Information on School Curricula on Local Government

Life, Well Run 

The Life, Well Run site has a growing collection of resources that can be helpful in civics education, and informing children and adults about local government.

Resources for Students and Educators

Additional Resources

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Investing in Our Future: A Handbook for Teaching Local Government

This text provides background, guidelines and ideas for developing programs and materials for teaching local government to K-12 students; 128 pages.  This book is available online from the ICMA Bookstore.

Web Sites

Picture Yourself in Local Government: A Student Guide to Local Government in California   This link takes you to the site for the Institute for Local Self Government in Sacramento, where you will find information on the California League of Cities' local government curriculum, including a teacher reference guide, student guide, and video, plus other educational tools. For more information, contact Christie Jensen at the League of California Cities at 916/658-8276.
North Carolina Civic Education Consortium  The Civic Education Consortium unites diverse partners to revitalize civic education and foster engagement of young North Carolinians. They envision a future in which all North Carolina children and youth become enthusiastic involved citizens endowed with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to participate in democratic life.
Our Town, Texas: Interactive Lessons in Local Government  Interactive lessons in local government curricula for K-1, 2-5, and middle school classes, including teachers' guides and activity handouts.
Michigan Civics Institute School Lesson Plans  Curricula for state and local government education in Michigan.
Centre for Developing Cities, University of Canberra  The Centre offers an intensive 12-month Master of Urban Management Degree Program by course work. Individual units in the program may be taken as courses for professional development. Six units comprise a Graduate Diploma in Urban Management.