Schools as Guardians of Democracy
Less than one-third of our nation's 8th graders can identify the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence. Fewer than one in five high school students are able to explain how citizen participation benefits democracy. And nearly 100 million U.S. citizens who were eligible to vote didn't exercise that right during the 2008 presidential election.
Guardian of Democracy: the Civic Mission of Schools, a report from the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools released just before National Constitution Day on September 17, documents the decline in civic learning in U.S. schools and presents six proven practices that should be at the heart of every school's approach to civic learning. Those practices range from incorporating discussions of current events and controversial issues in the classroom to offering opportunities for young people to become involved in their schools and communities outside of the classroom.
The report also provides recommendations for education policymakers to ensure every student acquires the civic skills and knowledge needed for an informed, engaged citizenry. Top among these is the need to include civic learning alongside English, math, and science as a core subject, emphasized by standards and assessments at the federal, state, and local levels. In addition, the report asserts that preservice and inservice teacher training programs should expand and improve their civic learning offerings.
The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools is a whole child partner; it joined with ASCD and dozens of major education organizations to develop consensus recommendations for how the federal government can better support the core subjects beyond reading and math. The campaign's work is also featured in ASCD's latest digital edition of Policy Priorities, which focuses on well-rounded education.
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