Civics literacy to be subject of annual report to board

Regents vote 7-2 to begin assessing knowledge among current, incoming students

Civics literacy among CU students will be the topic of an annual report to be delivered to the Board of Regents beginning next year.

The board on Feb. 13 voted 7-2 in favor of a resolution calling for the report and its details, the result of a pursuit begun by Regent John Carson, R-Highlands Ranch, in 2017.

“I think (this resolution) is very consistent with the laws of the regents and the guiding principles of the University of Colorado,” Carson said. “If you listen to President Kennedy’s presentation on the strategic plan on, he talks about 2026 being the 150th anniversary of the University of Colorado. It’s also the Semiquincentennial of the United States of America – the 250th anniversary of the country. … This is a good chance to rededicate ourselves to civics literacy.”

The resolution calls for an annual report, the first of which will be due June 30, 2021. It will measure current student enrollment in civics-related courses and programs. Beginning in fall 2021, the university will begin measuring civics literacy among incoming CU students; that data also will be part of the annual report, as will analysis of potential barriers that impede students from gaining civics literacy.

The board first voted on the expansion of civics efforts across the system a year ago, followed by a spirited discussion last November. Throughout the process, some board members and the Faculty Council, while not objecting to civics literacy, had expressed concern about the regents disregarding faculty oversight of curriculum.

Ultimately, Regents Irene Griego, D-Jefferson County, and Linda Shoemaker, D-Boulder, voted against the resolution. In her work in Colorado’s Pre K-12 system, Griego said, she has seen how the state has worked to create diligent standards for civics. Both she and Shoemaker expressed concerns over the cost of gathering data for the annual report, with Shoemaker adding that the resolution “is unnecessary and goes too far in infringing on our campuses.”