CRF Blog

Civics in Action

by Gregorio Medina

On Friday, June 11, the winners of our CAP Multimedia Contest were announced and CRF staff was duly impressed by the quality of the winning entries. Take a look at them on the CAP site.

CAP stands for Civic Action Project. It is a new curriculum that has just completed a year-long pilot-phase involving over 50 teachers in four states (California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, and Pennsylvania).

CAP emphasizes a policy- and action-based strategy for students to apply toward specific needs and issues in their community. Throughout this process, CAP teachers remain focused on delivering the lessons and acting as coaches who can respond to student questions and ideas regarding their CAP projects.

In CAP, students identify and complete a variety of separate civic actions (e.g., researching related policy, identifying and consulting with policymakers, attending and hosting meetings, connecting with community-based partners, and other actions designed to educate, inform, or involve peers or the entire community in a larger effort). As they do these civic actions, students are practicing effective citizenship, developing important civic competencies, and gaining marketable skills that enhance their chances for success in higher education and in an increasingly competitive job market.

The entry topics indicate how successful CAP was in engaging students in a broad range of local action rather than international missions. The winning entry (Texting While Driving) struck a particular chord with me since I’ve become increasingly sensitive to gadget-using drivers in traffic and not only because of the mortal danger they pose to other drivers and pedestrians. There are few things more frustrating to an Angeleno than missing a signal, becoming inexplicably stalled in a left-turn lane, or coasting along a freeway at 45 mph(?!?) because people think they can multi-task between driving and operating the latest electronic gadget. Unfortunately, this is not the case and too often results in tragic accidents (as cited in student research) or at the least prolonging the agony of navigating through L.A. traffic.

The “pathos” element of the video entries was a bit compromised (toned down?) by the copyright issues that forced us to mute the background music originally included in the entries, but the remaining images and text still manage to effectively convey the passion and dedication of CAP students for creating their own civic experience.