Count Me In! – Backyard Ballot Bash & Ballot Speed Dating

We always love hearing about cool, fun engagement efforts going on, which is why we’re excited to share with you an effort happening in Colorado called, Count Me In! It’s a collaborative civic engagement effort that educates voters on what’s on their ballot in a transpartisan way, bringing in all sides of the initiatives. CMI seeks to empower voters to know what they are voting on and vote on the whole ballot, with fun events like Ballot Speed Dating and Backyard Ballot Bashes. If you are in Colorado, check out the events that are lined up or contact CMI to plan your own! For those not in the state, we encourage you to check it out and see if you can bring something similar to your communities! You can learn more about CMI in the post below and on their site here.

Learn about what’s on your ballot with Count Me In!

There are going to be 13 initiatives for Coloradans to vote on this year, and that’s just the statewide ones. Even the most well-informed among us will need some help figuring out how they’re going to vote on all of these issues. That’s why Count Me In! is here. Once again, Count Me In! is partnering with community organizations around the state to make sure voters get all the information they need to make informed decisions about these critical policies affecting our state. Count Me In! is nonpartisan and provides information that is objective. There is still time to bring Count Me In! to your community, connect with us and we will plan an event that works for your community.

Check out where Count Me In! is headed with our list of events below. Join us for these events and share with your folks. We are getting new requests every day so check our website and Facebook page for the most up to date CMI! Events.

Save the Date(s) for Count Me In! Ballot Speed Dating

Count Me In! Colorado is hosting a few bigger ballot events we are calling Ballot Speed Dating. You’ll learn about each measure at these fun, informational ballot events. Count Me In! will be inviting all the statewide ballot campaigns to join us. You’ll get to ask your questions and learn more about each measure, like you would while speed dating. There will be appetizers, drinks, prizes, and engaging election information. Don’t miss this event!

  • Grand Junction Ballot Speed Dating: Thursday, September 27 from 5:30 –7:00 pm, SpringHills Suites, 236 Main Street, Grand Junction. Please share this event with folks in your network that would be interested!
  • Denver Ballot Speed Dating: Wednesday, October 17 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm, Great Divide Brewing, 1812 35th St, Denver, CO 80216. Be on the lookout for more info and promotional material for this event later this week.
  • Denver Ballot Bash: Saturday, October 20 – Denver Game Lounge – more info to come!

Ballot Bash in a Box

This year, in addition to great events at cool venues in every corner of the state, voters will be invited to host their own Backyard Ballot Bash (patent pending) using materials we’re calling Ballot Bash in a Box. If you’re dying to help your friends and neighbors get informed and want to make sure they vote their ballots from the bottom up, or you just need more information about Count Me In!, make sure you email Caitlin Schneider at today.

Follow Count Me In on the social media, FacebookTwitterInstagram!

Check out the calendar of events planned so far!

Date/Time Event
10 am – 11:30 am
 Count Me In! at the Southwest Rural Philanthropy Days
7 pm – 8 pm
 CMI! joins DougCo Dems for “What’s on Your Ballot?”
 Highlands Ranch Library, Highlands Ranch CO
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Tri-County Health Network hosts Count Me In! in Telluride
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
 Grand Junction Ballot Speed Dating
 SpringsHill Suites by Marriot, Grand Junction CO
6 – 7 pm
What’s on your Ballot?
Aspen, CO
11:30 am – 1:30 pm
What’s on your Ballot?
Colorado Mountain College, Edwards Campus, Edwards CO
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
 CMI Happy Hour with Common Cause
5:30 am – 7:00 am
 Count Me In! partners with Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
 Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Littleton Colorado
8 am – 10 am
 CMI! in Summit County “What’s on your Ballot”
12 pm – 2 pm
 CMI! in Grand County “What’s on your Ballot?”
9:30 am – 10:30 am
 Count Me In! and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
 Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Littleton Colorado

You can read more information about Count Me In! at

ENGAGING IDEAS – 09/28/2018


Golden could be the first Colorado city to lower the minimum voting age to 16 (
Colorado law limits voting to adults 18 and older, but as a home rule city, Golden could lower that age threshold for municipal-only races and ballot issues. People would still need to be at least 18 to hold office in Golden. If the measure passes, the first election that minors would likely be able to vote in would be November 2019. Continue Reading

The forgotten majority: how norms inform the practice of democracy (Vox)
We have a lot of norms about democracy. They're not all consistent. Continue Reading

Study Finds Partisan Beliefs Drive Attitudes Toward New Media (Courthouse News)
Nearly two years into Donald Trump's presidency, the partisan divide over the media and its role in the American democracy appears to have widened, a new study from the Pew Research Center says. Continue Reading


Black students default on college loans at a higher rate than others, study finds (Hechinger Report)
There's great disparity in the way that college graduates pay back student loans. Among black bachelor's degree holders, 21 percent defaulted on their student loans within 12 years of entering college, according to a report released this week from The Institute for College Access and Success. Only 8 percent of Hispanic degree holders and 3 percent of white degree holders defaulted within that time period. Continue Reading

Income inequality is changing how we think, live, and die (Vox)
Why society might be more stable if we had more poverty and less inequality. Continue Reading


College-age voters: increasingly courted - and thwarted (Christian Science Monitor)
Many students are too busy to care much about politics, but those who tune in can make the difference in a tight race - so battles are heating up over whether certain voting rules create unfair barriers. Continue Reading

Will de Blasio's ballot proposals make a difference? (City & State)
City Councilman Brad Lander evaluates the mayor's Charter Revision Commission. Continue Reading

How governments can let citizens call the shots (GovInsider)
Participatory budgeting can help citizens become decision-makers, serve the underprivileged and be a force for good on a national scale. Continue Reading


Want to boost test scores and increase grad rates? One strategy: look outside schools and help low-income families (Chalkbeat)
A large and growing body of research backs up Marquita's experience, documenting not only that poverty hurts students in school, but that specific anti-poverty programs can counteract that harm. These programs - or other methods of increasing family income - boost students' test scores, make them more likely to finish high school, and raise their chances of enrolling in college. Continue Reading

Report: 44 states have implemented at least one K-12 computer science policy (Education Dive)
Since 2013, the number of states with at least one policy related to computer science education in K-12 schools has increased from 14 to 44, according to a State of Computer Science Education report released Thursday from the Advocacy Coalition and the Computer Science Teachers Association. Continue Reading

The Future of Education: K-12 Superintendents' Views (Gallup)
U.S. public school superintendents remain enthusiastic about the future of their school district, but they are much less excited about public education nationwide. Eighty-six percent of K-12 superintendents agree they are excited about the future of their district, including 53% who strongly agree. Only half as many, 42%, agree they are excited about the future of K-12 public education in the U.S. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

Diversity Fatigue Is Real (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
For many folks of color in the academy, the language of diversity itself is tired and appears to be bandied about primarily for branding purposes. Continue Reading

How the Great Recession changed higher education forever (Washington Post)
For some colleges, the past 10 years have involved moving from one year to the next while grasping for strategies that might last longer. Others have approached the challenges of this past decade by hunkering down, hoping the tough times will simply pass. Rarely do enough college leaders peer far enough into the future, instead confronting the challenges ahead of them, incrementally, one year at a time. Continue Reading

Report: Colleges need more time to fill their incoming classes (Education Dive)
As competition for students increases, colleges are struggling to meet their target enrollment numbers by the traditional May 1 deadline, according to Inside Higher Ed's 2018 Survey of College and University Admissions Directors. The survey analyzed responses from 499 senior admissions or enrollment management professionals. Continue Reading

Health Care

Tennessee joins push for Medicaid work requirements (Modern Healthcare)
Tennessee officially posted its Medicaid waiver that would require enrollees to either seek or maintain work.It's the fourth state to propose a Medicaid work requirement this month for comment. Continue Reading

Health Care Transparency Effort Lags (WLRN)
With just months left in his term, one of Gov. Rick Scott's key health-care initiatives remains in limbo. Scott convinced legislators to set aside $3.5 million to create a new website and to create a claims database that would allow Floridians to shop around when it comes to health care. But with Scott ready to leave the governor's office in January, the health-care price information still isn't available to Florida consumers. Continue Reading

Bipartisan Negativity in Views of the Healthcare Industry (Gallup)
Republicans and Democrats have held similar views of the U.S. healthcare industry over the last two years since President Donald Trump took office, with 37% of Republicans and 33% of Democrats viewing it "very" or "somewhat" positively. However, this reflects a significant souring of Democrats' views of the healthcare industry since Barack Obama's second term as president. Republicans' views of the industry have recovered to pre-Obama levels. Continue Reading

Highlights of the Upcoming FCSS Annual Conference: Keynotes and Celebrations

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Good morning, dear friends in social studies and civics. Today, let’s highlight the keynotes and special events. We have referred to these in prior posts about the conference (here and here and here, for example), but let’s talk about them a bit more today. And of course be sure to register for the conference here!

Friday, October 19, 2018
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So Friday will be fun! Friday evening, there will be a reception open to all attendees to get us into the ‘Sunshine State of Mind’ and celebrate the great work being done with social studies in the state. The reception will be in the Heroes Ballroom at the hotel/conference center, and there will likely be some excellent food and drink available to enjoy as you mingle with colleagues, make new friends, and connect with some of the sponsors and vendors that will no doubt be attending and offering you some stuff! And to make it even more fun, folks are asked to wear something that represents key events,. people, or social or cultural aspects of this state of ours. Let’s show folks that there is more to Florida than Disney!

Saturday, October 20, 2018
Morning Keynote

Is social studies a constitutional right?  What a question, and one that in many ways is even more pressing than before as we struggle to make our way through civic life. UNC-Charlotte professor Dr. Tina Heafner, a renowned researcher, writer, and scholar of the social studies, will talk with us about why social studies can have such an impact on the quality of life and the quality of our nation, and why it matters so much. I have had the great pleasure of talking with Dr. Heafner in the past, and have heard her speak numerous times and this will be an excellent and engaging keynote about a provactive and important question. You can learn more about Dr. Heafner here.

Saturday, October 20, 2018
Awards Dinner

It’s time to have some fun! Join your friends and colleagues as social studies educators from all levels of instruction and from across the state are recognized for their hard work and leadership! This will be in the Legends Ballroom, from 6:30-8:30 PM.

Sunday, October 21, 2018
Brunch Keynote
satjeer kaur
The Sikh Coalition has been generous in providing a keynote speaker for Sunday Brunch. Satjeet Kaur, Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition, will talk about creating a healthy and inclusive classroom and provide us tools that we can use to do so! In the current climate that sometimes can boil over into our classrooms, this is something I think that we all can find useful!

Have I told you to be sure to register for the conference here!

National Week of Conversation from October 5th – 13th

The next National Week of Conversation (NWOC) is October 5th – 13th! During NWOC, folks around the country will be joining conversations, in hopes to better address the intense divisions in our society through dialogue, deepening understanding, and building relationships. We encourage you to join a conversation already going on and/or start your own here! To help support these conversations, resources like conversations guides and helpful background information are provided on the National Conversation Project (NCP) site here, many from the NCDD coalition! And don’t forget to check out the 3k+ resources on the NCDD Resource Center too! You can read more in the post below and on the NCP site here.

National Week of Conversation: October 5-13

Americans of all stripes are stepping up to address the growing cultural crisis of hyper-polarization and animosity across divides. Together we can turn the tide of rising rancor and deepening division with widespread conversations in which we #ListenFirst to understand. Supported by 100+ organizations, National Conversation Project promotes monthly conversation opportunities as well as National Weeks of Conversation.

In April of this year, thousands of Americans took part in the first National Week of Conversation (NWOC). More than 130 schools, libraries, faith communities, activist groups and nonprofits hosted conversations coast to coast in 32 states. These conversations were grounded in a pledge to listen first and seek understanding. The official #ListenFirst hashtag reached millions during NWOC and continues to be promoted by celebrities and journalists to millions more. NWOC events gained media attention across the nation including in the New York Times.

Majorities of NWOC participants walked away feeling more tolerant, understanding, appreciative and curious toward people with different perspectives. Two-thirds rated the value of their conversation as a 9 or 10 out of 10. More than three-quarters now feel better equipped and more likely to listen first to understand, as well as more likely to participate in conversations across divides. A survey of all Americans found 75% willing to set a good example by practicing conversations across divides, and 36%—amounting to more than 100 million people—want to see a national campaign promoting such conversations.

The next National Week of Conversation is October 5th – 13th! Join a conversation already going on or start your own here:

TOPIC OF THE MONTH: Bridging Divides

The United States is facing a cultural crisis. Increasingly in America today, we don’t just disagree; we distrust, dislike, even despise those who see the world differently. Animosity for positions is becoming contempt for the people who hold them. Difference and disagreement are deeply personal as we rage against and recoil from those we see as enemies across widening divides—political, racial, religious, economic and more. Most of us see fewer things that bind Americans together today and have few or no friends from the other side. The rate of loneliness has more than doubled to nearly 50%, creating a public health epidemic. We’re withdrawing from conversations—thereby eroding relationships and understanding—which threatens the foundational fabric of America. 75% of Americans say this problem has reached a crisis level, and 56% believe it will only get worse. Our condition is rapidly deteriorating into what’s now being described as a soft civil war.

There’s nothing wrong with passionate beliefs, disagreement, and protest, but it feels like something more dangerous is taking hold. Do you see it? Personally feel it? What’s changed? What can we do about it together? How we can bridge the divides that threaten our future?

Conversation Guides on Bridging Divides

Background Information to support these conversations:

National Conversation Project Calendar – click here

National Week of Conversation – Fall ‘18: October 5-13, 2018
Listen First Friday – Nov: November 2, 2018
Listen First Friday – Dec: December 7, 2018
Listen First Friday – Jan: January 4, 2019
Listen First Friday – Feb: February 1, 2019
Listen First Friday – Mar: March 1, 2019
National Week of Conversation – Spring ‘19: April 5-13, 2019
Listen First Friday – May: May 3, 2019
Listen First Friday – Jun: June 7, 2019
Listen First Friday – Jul: July 5, 2019
Listen First Friday – Aug: August 2, 2019
Listen First Friday – Sep: September 6, 2019
National Week of Conversation – Fall ‘19: October 4-12, 2019
Listen First Friday – Nov: November 1, 2019
Listen First Friday – Dec: December 6, 2019

You can learn more about the National Week of Conversation at

#CivxNow Anniversary Twitter Chat on Thursday!


About this time last year, the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, as part of the Lou Frey Institute, was honored to be invited to attend and participate in the CivXNow discussion in Washington, DC with leading figures in Civics education. This Thursday, throughout the day, we will be participating in an online Twitter discussion about the state of civic education in the country today, and we encourage you to join us using #CivXNow, and feel free to @ us @FL_Citizen. And if you aren’t able to join, please consider taking the pledge to dedicate yourself to improving civic education in the United States!  Take the pledge if you believe every young person deserves to understand their rights and be equipped with the skills necessary to be informed and effectively engaged!

Founders Month and Freedom Week in Florida: Governor Moseley!


American Founders’ Month continues in Florida. Today, we look at an actual Founder of Florida, William Dunn Moseley. Governor Moseley was the first elected of governor of the new state of Florida, from 1845-1849. Before Moseley, Florida had the legendary Andrew Jackson as military governor and a series of territorial governors. So how was Moseley as a governor?

Like the vast majority of other Florida governors, Moseley was a Democrat (though we should recall that the meaning of ‘Democrat’ and ‘Republican’ has changed over time). Also like many of his peers, he was a supporter of states’ rights and slavery, owning a plantation near what is now Lake Miccosukee in Jefferson County. It is under Moseley, however that the first real efforts were made to establish a peaceful relationship with the Seminole Indians and the establishment of an agricultural industry focused around citrus.


You can learn more about Governor Moseley from the Florida Department of State!

Grab the PPT slide featured at the top of this post here: Governor of Florida Moseley FM

the pivotal youth vote in Ayanna Pressley’s election

Early this month, Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley defeated incumbent Rep. Mike Capuano in the Democratic primary. CIRCLE’s analysis shows that Pressley performed best in precincts where young adults or people of color are most numerous. Those precincts also saw the biggest turnout increases compared to the most comparable recent election. “For example, Boston’s Ward 21, Precinct 2—home to Boston University’s Student Village—saw 400 percent more votes cast in this primary compared to four years ago, which dwarfed the median increase of 166 percent across all precincts.”

It’s true that precincts with lots of youth or people of color tend to be located in the City of Boston, where Pressley has been a councilor. So it could be that she performed best within her own jurisdiction. (She is a respected veteran elected official, even though she is sometimes portrayed simply as an insurgent.) However, she also won precincts outside of Boston that have favorable demographics.

I find it interesting that age and race/ethnicity separately predicted support for her. Or, to put it another way, she did well in student precincts that are predominantly white and upper-income as well as in low-income neighborhoods.

Join National Conversation on Civility Live Stream Tonight

In case you missed it, you are invited to join the livestream for a National Conversation on Civility tonight from 7-9 pm Eastern, hosted by NCDD member org National Institute for Civil Discourse and the American Psychological Association. The conversation moderated by Scott Simon of NPR, will feature a panel with Dr. Johnathan Haidt, Sally Kohn, Dr. Arthur Evans, and Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, as they explore the importance of civility in our society and how to repair it moving forward. They will be answering questions via the live stream and for folks in the DC area you can attend the event in person, see the details below.

Revive Civility: Our Democracy Depends on It

From the Brett M. Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearing to people burning their Nike products, as the country approaches the 2018 midterm elections, our national rhetoric is more polarized than ever. Rudeness, name-calling, bullying and insults have become so commonplace that many Americans have tuned out. Can these behaviors be curbed, and can we learn to disagree civilly? To address these and other questions, the American Psychological Association and the National Institute for Civil Discourse have partnered to present “A National Conversation on Civility.”

Please join us for a National Conversation on Civility via live stream on September 26th from 7-9 PM (Eastern) on Civility and our Democracy in the run up to the 2018 elections with Scott Simon, (NPR) moderating a panel that includes authors Jonathan Haidt and Sally Kohn Dr. Arthur C. Evans and Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer .  We’ll be exploring the importance of civility, why it has broken down — and why it’s necessary for solving the major challenges confronting our nation.

You can participate in this event via live stream from your home, coffee house, place of worship, library or community center.  Gather with family, friends, members of your community organization to watch together.  There will be opportunities for you to share questions for the panel via YouTube and to engage with those gathered around you.


For those in the DC area who can join in person:
Jack Morton Auditorium George Washington University 805 21st St., N.W. Washington, DC 20052

Doors open at 6:30. Panel discussion with audience participation from 7-9 p.m., followed by a reception from 9-10 p.m. Haidt and Kohn will be signing copies of their books. Tickets are available for purchase at $18 for the panel discussion only, $28 for the discussion and reception

Together let’s continue to explore how we can build civility and respect into our lives and public discourse.

This information was drawn from Cheryl Graeve, National Community Organizer with the National Institute for Civil Discourse and from a blog post on NICD’s site from the American Psychological Association at

More FCSS Conference Sessions to Consider!

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It’s that time again, dear friends! Time to check out Florida Council for the Social Studies conference sessions, scheduled for late October. Today, let’s take a look at some more early Saturday sessions. And of course, don’t forget to dress up for the Friday night reception!
opening reception

Saturday, October 20, 2018
Concurrent Session 1
What if Everything You Knew About Hinduism was Wrong? 
Aesha Mehta, Hindu American Foundation

I have attended versions of this session at other conferences, and it is an EXCELLENT introduction into Hinduism, especially for those that may be teaching world history! And of course, the Hindu American Foundation has always been generous supporters of FCSS in the past! 

Conduct Relevant and Engaging Civil Conversations
Jennifer Jolley, Palm Bay Magnet High School
Frank Stockman, Bayside High School
Steve Masyada, FJCC at the Lou Frey Institute

This session draws on the work of the Constitutional Rights Foundation T2T Collab, and the effort to provide teachers with diverse pedagogical tools for teaching and learning about controversial issues and having difficult conversations. 

Concurrent Session 2
Teaching the Civil Rights Movement: Beyond Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks
Judy Lindquist, Orange County Public Schools/UCF
300px-1963_march_on_washington (1)

There is way more to learning about civil rights than the traditional standbys. This session will show you how to use primary sources, complex texts, and engaging literacy activities to go deeper!

Fostering Civic Engagement Through Design Thinking

Brian Furgione, University of Central Florida
This is a CUFA-oriented session open to practitioners (like you!)  that focuses on creating engaging and authentic experiences for civic learning in the classroom. Certainly worth a look, as we think about new ways to engage our kids! 

We’ll explore more sessions, including Sunday’s sessions and the keynotes, in a later post, but don’t forget that you are also invited to attend the Awards Dinner Saturday evening, where your peers will be recognized for their contributions to our field and our wonderful profession!


Be sure to register for the conference here.

the Massachusetts Citizens’ Initiative Review

[Press Release] – A 20-person panel of voters convened by the Massachusetts Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) pilot project has released its Citizens’ Statement on Question 1, the ballot question on nurse staffing limits.

The Citizens’ Statement is intended to assist voters by providing them with the results of their fellow citizens’ four-day deliberation on the ballot question. It sets out the panel’s key findings as well as the strongest and most reliable reasons to support or oppose Question 1.The Citizens’ Statement is available online.

The Massachusetts Citizens’ Initiative Review deliberations were held from September 12-15 at the Watertown Free Public Library. The campaigns for and against Question 1 both appeared before the citizen panel three times to present their arguments and answer questions.

The citizen panelists also heard from seven neutral experts in fields relevant to nursing, patient safety, and healthcare. Trained facilitators guided the deliberations that resulted in the Citizens’ Statement.

The Massachusetts CIR pilot project was organized by State Representative Jonathan Hecht in partnership with Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life and Healthy Democracy, the organization that pioneered CIR in Oregon and others states. Experience in Oregon, where CIR has been part of the official election process since 2011, has shown it to be a highly effective and well-received way to inform voters about complicated ballot measures.

This is the second time Massachusetts Citizens’ Initiative Review has been used in Massachusetts.

In 2016, 77% of voters who saw the Citizens’ Statement on marijuana legalization (Question 4) said it was helpful in making their decision. On major factual issues, voters who read the Citizens’ Statement were better informed and more confident in their knowledge than those who only read the official voter guide. John Gastil, Professor of Communications at Penn State and one of the nation’s leading CIR researchers, will conduct surveys to determine how helpful the 2018 Citizens’ Statement proves for Massachusetts voters.

The 20-member citizen panel was selected from respondents to a mailer sent to 15,000 randomly-selected Massachusetts voters.