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Foundations of Democracy

Milwaukee Public Schools, which serves a diverse student body in Wisconsin, has not made Adequate Yearly Progress in reading and mathematics for four consecutive years. Foundations of Democracy was designed to align with the literacy component of the district's improvement plan. The program will deliver sustained experiential professional development to history teachers in a variety of formats. In a typical year, a participating teacher might attend a week-long summer institute, three 1-day workshops during the school year, 12 paid hours of afterschool workshops on history strategies, and six paid hours of lectures and field trips outside of school hours. Also, over the course of five years, each participant will be required to take at least three online graduate courses, attend a Gilder Lehrman summer seminar, and submit proposals to present at state and national conferences. There will be a district-wide student exhibition in Year 4 and a district-wide history teachers conference in Year 5. The district will select 45 teachers for the program, with priority given to high school teachers, those teaching in schools in need of improvement, and those teaching history without a license in history. The program's overarching theme is how four components of freedom and democracy—authority, responsibility, justice and privacy—have shaped America’s social, political, and legal institutions and relationships. Instructional strategies for Foundations of Democracy will incorporate culturally competent programming, formative assessment, document-based questioning, critical reading and writing skills, and project-based learning. Participating teachers will provide professional development at their schools and facilitate sessions at a culminating district-wide U.S. history conference.