The Institute was founded by Mark Wyland in the late ‘90’s, as the Wyland Institute for Civic Education. Subsequently, after service on a local school board and more than a decade as a leader in education policy in the California legislature, Senator Wyland expanded the scope of the institute to address other pressing issues in K-12 education.
Excellent schools, from Kindergarten through High School, provide a necessary foundation for the success of our students and the success of our country in an increasingly complex world. Beyond the basic skills of reading comprehension and writing, education must be more effective in several key areas: civic education (enhancing student knowledge of history, government, economics, and current affairs, in preparation to be informed voters and citizens); science (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or STEM); career education (career technical education, CTE, formerly known as vocational education); and English learners (effective language education for students whose first language is not English).
The primary mission of the Institute is to develop innovative, effective curriculum in each of these areas. Civic education: although an oft-stated goal of education is to produce good citizens, studies show that we are not educating young people who are knowledgeable about our history, government, or current affairs---all necessary in order to be informed voters who will become active citizens who will guide our future. STEM: in science and its applications, fundamental to our economic future, we do not have enough students pursuing these studies, and not enough of those who do in high school are sufficiently motivated to continue study in these areas, crucial to our economic future; Career technical education (CTE): we are the only major industrialized country that lacks wide career and job preparation through our educational system. To the extent that we formerly offered a form of such education (often known as “vocational education”), it typically is no longer an option for many high school students whose primary interests are not academic; unfortunately, that lack is associated with an unacceptable high school dropout rate and youth unemployment. English Learners: Increasingly many students, particularly in urban areas, come to school with limited or no English language skills. Yet the most effective means of teaching these students necessary English language skills have not been identified and widely adopted.
The mission of the Institute is to develop and make widely available engaging curriculum that supports student learning in each of these core subject areas.