Hundreds of Pierce County students are competing at Project Citizen Showcase events to learn about the Constitution, public policy and relationships among local, state and federal governments.
Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson is leading the effort by bringing the national civics curriculum from the Center for Civic Engagement to teachers and students across the county. Nine classes at three area schools are participating.
“Traditional voter outreach programs aren’t cutting it,” Anderson said. “Pierce County voter turnout averages 5 percent less than the rest of the state. We can improve that because we know that an educated voter is a likely voter.” Anderson believes that teaching students how to engage their local government will increase voting trends in the future.
Over the past several months, students participated in a classroom civics curriculum. They identified a public policy they wanted to change, and then researched and proposed a solution. Students surveyed the community to identify supporters and opponents. And finally, students prepared a detailed action plan to present. Their teachers received free training and textbooks to support the program.
The Auditor’s Office partnered with Tim Knudson, a Peninsula High School teacher with Project Citizen experience, to train 15 community leaders as judges for the upcoming competition. Judges will evaluate the students’ portfolios and presentations.
Judging is occurring during the second week of April at Carbonado Middle School, North Tapps Middle School and Lister Elementary School in Tacoma. The best showcase will be announced on Thurs., April 14, and that class will qualify for the Washington State Project Citizen Showcase in Olympia on May 14.
The program is funded by grants, including funding from the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, which aggregates charitable gifts and provides leadership and financial leverage in addressing the needs of Pierce County.
More information about Project Citizen is available online at http://www.civiced.org/index.php?page=introduction .