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Civics Renewal Network Hosts NCSS Conference Events

The Civics Renewal Network open house at the National Constitution Center
The Civics Renewal Network open house. Credit: Dominique Nichole Photography courtesy of the National Constitution Center.

The Civics Renewal Network welcomed back thousands of K-12 teachers to the first in-person National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Conference since 2019, at a three-day gathering from Dec. 2-4, 2022, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

The partners in CRN, a project of the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics at the Annenberg Public Policy Center, hosted about 350 teachers at an open house, “Cocktails, the Constitution, and Building Civic Bonds,” at the National Constitution Center on Dec. 1. Teachers and CRN partners competed in Constitution Quizzo, toured the museum, and caught up with their “civic besties.”

Two CRN partners, Donna Phillips of the Center for Civic Education and Elizabeth Osborn of the Indiana University Center on Representative Government, introduced the three winners of the 2022 American Civics Education Teacher Awards (ACETA): Justin T. Hubbard of Salamanca High School in Salamanca, N.Y.; Shelina Warren of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.; and Tony Pirotta of Jule F. Sumner High School in Riverview, Fla. Also sponsored by the National Education Association, the ACETA program promotes national recognition and respect for the teaching profession as a whole and for teachers of civics education in particular. The awards honor elementary and secondary civics education teachers who have demonstrative special expertise in teaching about the U.S. Constitution, Congress, and public policy at state and local levels.

Rendell Center panel on Supreme Court cases

The Rendell Center panel with Judge Marjorie O. Rendell on-screen and, on stage, Judges Gerald J. Pappert, Theodore A. McKee, and Cynthia M. Rufe. Credit: Dominique Nichole Photography courtesy of the National Constitution Center.

Preceding the open house, the Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement, in partnership with the Annenberg Public Policy Center, hosted a panel discussion on “Judicial Independence and the Constitution.” Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, co-founder of the Rendell Center and a senior judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, moderated a discussion about landmark Supreme Court cases and recent rulings with Judge Theodore A. McKee of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Senior U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, and U.S. District Judge Gerald J. Pappert.

Rendell began the program with a discussion of law and executive cases including United States v. Nixon, as well as establishment and free exercise clause cases. Rufe discussed freedom of speech cases, including the recent Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. McKee led the group in a discussion of law and morality cases, including Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges. Finally, Pappert discussed privacy and government cases including Griswold v. Connecticut and the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade. The program concluded with questions from the audience and questions regarding judicial independence and how judges make decisions.

Civics Renewal Network Village

In the conference’s exhibit hall, teachers visited the Civics Renewal Network Village, where they could talk to the partners and learn about the partners’ classroom resources, programs, and professional development opportunities.

For conference visitors to Philadelphia, the bucket list wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to the Art Museum, where they could follow the footsteps of Rocky Balboa in the “Rocky” movie. Undeterred by the damp weather, about 60 enthusiastic partners and educators gathered at 7 a.m. on Saturday for the Rocky Run, then posed with the Rocky statue for a 2022 NCSS memory.

The Civics Renewal Network is an alliance of 39 nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations committed to improving the quality of civics education in the nation’s schools. Resources from the partners, searchable by grade level, subject,  resource type, and standards, as well as information about professional development opportunities, teacher awards, and student contests can be found at