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Citizenship education is lacking in public and private schools: 75 percent of high school seniors cannot name a power granted to Congress by the Constitution, fewer than half of eighth graders know the purpose of the Bill of Rights, and less than a quarter of young Americans regularly vote, according to a recent survey released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In addition, civic dialogue is becoming ever more polarized, while public service is openly disdained by many. Previous school reforms have focused on graduation rates and reading and math scores, neglecting education about citizenship and resulting in a lack of basic knowledge about issues at the core of what has made America great.
School reformers are themselves deeply engaged in powerful civic and political action: transforming American educational policy and practice. This presents an opportunity to ensure that America’s schools also focus—as they once did—on forging engaged, empowered citizens. Sponsored by AEI's Program on American Citizenship, Frederick M. Hess, AEI’s director of education policy studies; Meira Levinson, associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and David E. Campbell, associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, have commissioned leading researchers and scholars to explore the issues of citizenship and schooling by looking at domestic and international data, teacher training, and schools and classrooms. The research presented at this AEI event will illuminate how America’s schools can renew their focus on forging engaged and empowered citizens.
Registration and Breakfast
Panel I: Citizenship Education in Flux: Perspectives on Past and Present
MICHAEL C. JOHANEK, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
PETER LEVINE, CIRCLE
WILLIAM A. GALSTON, Brookings Institution and the University of Maryland
VERONICA BOIX-MANSILLA, Harvard Graduate School of Education
MEIRA LEVINSON, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Panel II: What Students Know and How It's Being Taught
RICHARD NIEMI, University of Rochester
ANNA ROSEFSKY SAAVEDRA, RAND Corporation
JAMES YOUNISS, The Catholic University of America
TREY GRAYSON, Harvard University Institute of Politics
DAVID E. CAMPBELL, University of Notre Dame
Panel III: What Teachers Know and How They Learn It
KEITH C. BARTON, Indiana University
JOHN ZOLA, Boulder Valley School District and University of Colorado
JUAN RANGEL, United Neighborhood Organization
RANDI WEINGARTEN, American Federation of Teachers
MEIRA LEVINSON, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Panel IV: Different Students, Different Sectors
MEIRA LEVINSON, Harvard Graduate School of Education
DAVID E. CAMPBELL, University of Notre Dame
JOSEPH KAHNE, Mills College
IRASEMA SALCIDO, Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School
Panel V: The Future of Citizenship Education
RUSSLYNN ALI, US Department of Education
PETER C. GROFF, Black Alliance for Educational Options
TED MCCONNELL, Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools
MICHAEL J. PETRILLI, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
DAVID E. CAMPBELL, University of Notre Dame
Adjournment and Reception
To better prepare today's students for their civic duties, educators and policymakers need to rethink the way they teach citizenship, assess what students know about civics, and use technology to leverage professional development and learning , a group of experts shared Thursday at a conference on civic education at the American Enterprise Institute.
The event's opening panel featured presentations from Michael Johanek of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and Peter Levine of CIRCLE and responses from William Galston of the Brookings Institution and Veronica Boix-Mansilla from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who argued that citizenship education needs to account for the global changes we've seen in the past decade.
The second panel evaluated what students know and how it's taught. Panelist James Youniss of the Catholic University of America sounded an alarm regarding our priorities in civic education, pointing out that we don't want to produce a generation that is very "book smart" but doesn't know how to interact with the political system. Panel three, which examined the role of teacher preparation and professional development in improving US citizenship education, ended with a passionate call from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten to move away from talking about schools solely as vehicles to prepare kids for the 21st century economy and toward talking about schools as institutions dedicated to preparing engaged citizens.
In panel four, presenters discussed the role different sectors of schools, diverse classrooms and changing technology can play in improving civic education. The panel's discussant, Irasema Salcido of Cesar Chavez Schools, noted that improving civic education involves efforts and examples from adults, who can instill passion and a desire to become politically active in their children and students. The final panel, which featured much debate about the future role of both the federal government and education reformers in civic education, exposed different ways of thinking about the future of citizenship education. US Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali said part of the current problem is that people assume preparing students for college and career doesn't also include preparing them for civic life.
Despite different views on the depths of our civic crisis, the panelists sounded a uniform call for policymakers to ensure America's schools renew their focus on producing engaged, empowered citizens and challenged those committed to improving American education to embrace citizenship learning and engagement as essential goals.
-- Whitney Downs
Keith C. Barton is professor of curriculum and instruction and adjunct professor of history at Indiana University. He researches students’ historical understanding, classroom teaching and learning contexts and the history of the social studies curriculum. He has conducted several studies in the United States, Northern Ireland and New Zealand and has been a visiting professor at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, and at the UNESCO Centre for Education in Pluralism, Human Rights, and Democracy at the University of Ulster. He is the author, with Linda S. Levstik, of “Doing History: Investigating with Children in Elementary and Middle Schools” (2011); “Teaching History for the Common Good” (2004); and “Researching History Education: Theory, Method, and Context” (2004) and editor of “Research Methods in Social Studies Education: Contemporary Issues and Perspectives” (Information Age Publishing, 2006). He teaches courses on secondary social studies methods, educational research and curriculum history.
Veronica Boix-Mansilla is the principal investigator for the Interdisciplinary Studies Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research examines the conditions that enable experts and young learners to produce quality interdisciplinary work addressing problems of contemporary global significance—from globalization to climate change to cultural exchange. Her most recent work has focused on articulating a definition of global competence for US districts and states and on studying the development and nurture of an informed global consciousness among International Baccalaureate youth in North America, Kenya and India. She is the founder of L@titud, the Latin American Initiative for Understanding and Development and the Future of Learning Institute at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and has taught at the University of Buenos Aires and Harvard. She is the author of “Teaching for Interdisciplinary Understanding in the Middle Years Program” (2010); “Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World” (2011, with Tony Jackson) and “The Point of Integration: Pivotal Reflections on Quality Contemporary Interdisciplinarity” (forthcoming 2012).
David E. Campbell is the John Cardinal O’Hara, C.S.C. Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and the founding director of the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy. He is the co-author of “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us” (2010, with Robert Putnam), which the New York Times described as “intellectually powerful” and the San Francisco Chronicle as “the most successfully argued sociological study of American religion in more than half a century.” Mr. Campbell is also the author of “Why We Vote: How Schools and Communities Shape Our Civic Life” (2006); the editor of “A Matter of Faith: Religion in the 2004 Presidential Election” (2007) and a co-author of “Democracy at Risk” (2005). As an expert on religion, politics, young people and civic engagement, Mr. Campbell has often been featured in the national media, including The New York Times, The Economist, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Time, NBC News, CNN, NPR, Fox News and C-SPAN.
William A. Galston holds the Ezra Zilkha Chair in the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program, where he is a senior fellow. He is also College Park Professor at the University of Maryland. Before January 2006, he was Saul Stern Professor at the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland; director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy; and founding director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. From 1993 to 1995, Mr. Galston served as deputy assistant for domestic policy to President Clinton. He is the author of eight books and more than 100 articles in the fields of political theory, public policy and American politics. His most recent books are “Liberal Pluralism” (2002), “The Practice of Liberal Pluralism” (2004) and “Public Matters” (2005). A winner of the American Political Science Association’s Hubert H. Humphrey Award, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. Mr. Galston has appeared on all the principal television networks and is a frequent commentator on NPR. He also writes a weekly column for the online edition of The New Republic.
Trey Grayson became director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in January 2011 after two terms of serving as Kentucky’s secretary of state. He was elected to office in November 2003 as the youngest secretary of state in the country and in 2007 became one of only two Republican statewide-elected constitutional officers in modern history to win a second consecutive term. Mr. Grayson modernized the Office of the Secretary of State by bringing more services online, enhancing Kentucky’s election laws through several legislative packages and reviving the civic mission of schools in Kentucky by leading the effort to restore civics education in the classroom. During his tenure, he served as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) and held a variety of prominent national leadership positions, including chair of the Republican Association of Secretaries of State. He also served as NASS Treasurer, chair of the NASS Elections committee, co-chair of the NASS Presidential Primary subcommittee and vice-chair of the NASS committee on voter participation, and became a national authority on presidential primary reform and election administration.
Peter C. Groff is a senior advisor at the Black Alliance for Educational Options and heads up the alliance’s legislative and diversity portfolio. Before this position, Mr. Groff was president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the US Department of Education. Before that position, he was the founder and executive director of the University of Denver’s Center for New Politics and Policy (formerly Center for African American Policy) and a lecturer for the university’s public policy program. He also was the forty-seventh president of the Colorado State Senate, the first African American in Colorado to hold that post and only the third African American in the country to be a state senate president. Mr. Groff, who was called the “Conscience of the Senate,” served in the Colorado General Assembly for nine years and passed landmark legislation creating visionary education reform measures, prohibiting racial profiling and requiring booster seats for young children.
Diana Hess is professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A former high school teacher, she currently teaches courses for undergraduate and graduate students in social studies education, social studies research and democratic education. Since 1998 she has been researching what young people learn from deliberating highly controversial political and constitutional issues in schools. Ms. Hess is the author of “Controversy in the Classroom: The Democratic Power of Discussion” (2009), which received the 2009 exemplary research award from the National Council for the Social Studies. Beginning in Fall 2011, she will be on leave from the university to serve as the senior vice president of the Spencer Foundation.
Frederick M. Hess is resident scholar and director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. He has authored influential books on education including “The Same Thing Over and Over,” “Education Unbound,” “Common Sense School Reform,” “Revolution at the Margins” and “Spinning Wheels” and pens the Education Week blog “Rick Hess Straight Up.” His work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets such as Teachers College Record, Harvard Education Review, Social Science Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, American Politics Quarterly, Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post and National Review. He has edited widely cited volumes on education philanthropy, stretching the education dollar, the impact of education research, education entrepreneurship and No Child Left Behind. He serves as executive editor of Education Next; as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program; on the Review Board for the Broad Prize in Urban Education; and on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, 4.0 SCHOOLS and the American Board for the Certification of Teaching Excellence. A former high school social studies teacher, he has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University and Harvard University.
Michael C. Johanek is a senior fellow at the Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania. As member of the Education Graduate Group, he directs the Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, co-directs the Inter-American Educational Leadership Network and is profesor invitado internacional at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Previously, he was vice president of professional services for Teachscape; executive director for K–12 professional development for the College Board; and a high school teacher and administrator in Cleveland, Ohio; New York; and Lima, Peru. Mr. Johanek’s publications include “Leonard Covello and the Making of Benjamin Franklin High School: Education As If Citizenship Mattered” (2007, with J. Puckett) and “A Faithful Mirror: Reflections on the College Board and Education in America” (2001).
Joseph Kahne is the John and Martha Davidson Professor of Education at Mills College and chair of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics. His research focuses on ways school practices and digital media influence youth civic and political development. Currently, he is writing up findings from a panel study of new media participation and civic education in students from nineteen districts in California. With Cathy Cohen, he is currently co–principal investigator of a national survey of youth civic and political engagement and of their digital media participation. Mr. Kahne sits on the steering committee of the National Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools and on the advisory board of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
Peter Levine is director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) and research director of Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service. He is the author of “The Future of Democracy: Developing the Next Generation of American Citizens” (2007), “Reforming the Humanities: Literature and Ethics from Dante to Modern Times” (2009), three other scholarly books on philosophy and politics, and a novel. He also co-edited “The Deliberative Democracy Handbook” (2006) with John Gastil and “Engaging Young People in Civic Life” (2009) with Jim Youniss and co-organized the writing of “The Civic Mission of Schools,” a report released by Carnegie Corporation of New York and CIRCLE in 2003 that led to a national advocacy campaign. He has served on the boards or steering committees of AmericaSpeaks, Street Law, the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, the Kettering Foundation, the American Bar Association Committee’s for Public Education, the Paul J. Aicher Foundation, the Democracy Imperative and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.
Meira Levinson is an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, following eight years working as a middle school teacher in the Atlanta and Boston Public Schools. She writes about the intersection of political theory, education policy and pedagogical practice. She is the author of “No Citizen Left Behind” (forthcoming, 2012); “The Demands of Liberal Education” (1999) and the coauthored “Democracy at Risk” (2005), in addition to numerous articles and book chapters. She has served on the steering committees or boards of the American Political Science Association’s Standing Committee on Civic Education and Civic Engagement, Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, CIRCLE/Tisch College, Discovering Justice, Generation Citizen, the Civic Ed Project and the scholarly journal Theory and Research in Education. Ms. Levinson also co-convenes the Civic and Moral Education Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Ted McConnell serves as executive director of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, a coalition of over seventy national organizations committed to improving the quality and quantity of civic learning in our nation’s schools. Before joining the campaign, Mr. McConnell directed the Campaign to Promote Civic Education, a nationwide effort to revitalize and strengthen civic education at the state and district levels that was an initiative of the Center for Civic Education. He also served as co-coordinator of the Congressional Conferences on Civic Education (2003–2006). Mr. McConnell has been involved in the political, governmental and nonprofit sectors for over thirty-five years. His prior positions include congressional affairs assistant to the United States secretary of commerce; assistant to the chairman and director of marketing and events for the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution and deputy director of the Citizens Division of the Republican National Committee.
Richard Niemi is Don Alonzo Watson Professor of Political Science at the University of Rochester, where has taught for more than forty years, serving as department chair, associate dean and interim dean. He is co-author or co-editor of “Vital Statistics on American Politics, 2011–2012” (2011); “Comparing Democracies 3” (2010); “Controversies in Voting Behavior” (fifth ed., 2010); “Voting Technology: The Not-So-Simple Act of Casting a Ballot” (2008); “Civic Education: What Makes Students Learn” (1998); and numerous scholarly articles. His current research is on voting technologies and youth attitude development. In 2002, he was selected as a foreign member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, and in 2007 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Michael J. Petrilli is executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. In this role, he oversees the organization’s research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter. He is also a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and executive editor of Education Next, where he writes a regular column on technology and media as well as feature-length articles. Mr. Petrilli has published opinion pieces in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal and appears regularly on “The NBC Nightly News,” “ABC World News Tonight,” CNN and Fox. He’s been a guest on several National Public Radio programs, including “All Things Considered,” “Talk of the Nation” and “The Diane Rehm Show.” He is author, with Frederick M. Hess, of “No Child Left Behind: A Primer” (2007). Previously, he was an official in the US Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement and a vice president at K12.com. He started his career as a teacher at the Joy Outdoor Education Center in Clarksville, Ohio.
Juan Rangel is the chief executive officer for the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), metropolitan Chicago’s largest Hispanic community-based organization. Since becoming CEO in 1996, Mr. Rangel has greatly increased the scope and impact of UNO, expanding activities within the city of Chicago, as well as among the quickly growing suburban Hispanic communities, building on the success that UNO had reached in its first decade of community organizing. In 2001, he co-developed the Metropolitan Leadership Institute (MLI), aimed at engaging young Hispanic professionals in the public arena, including political, corporate, governmental and nonprofit spheres. The MLI is a yearlong training program that incorporates UNO’s twenty-plus years of community organizing experience in developing Hispanic leaders within metropolitan Chicago.
Anna Rosefsky Saavedra is a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. Her expertise is in addressing questions relevant to civic, global and twenty-first century skills education, particularly in urban schools in the United States and in developing country settings. Ms. Saavedra’s current projects include studies of the International Baccalaureate program, district-sponsored summer learning programs, human capital-based school reform initiatives and the quality of higher education. Her research funding sources have included the Center for the Advancement and Study of International Education, the Frederick Sheldon Harvard Travel Fellowship, the Fulbright Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wallace Foundation. Before her graduate studies, Ms. Saavedra taught world history to high school students and managed education-related projects in a corporate setting.
Irasema Salcido is CEO and founder of César Chávez Charter Schools for Public Policy in Washington, DC, and president and founder of the DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative. The daughter of Mexican immigrant farm workers, Ms. Salcido came to the United States at 14 years old and could not speak English. Despite the language barrier and other obstacles facing immigrants, she persevered in her education, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In 1997, Ms. Salcido founded César Chávez Public Charter High School for Public Policy in Washington, DC. Following the success of the first school, she expanded the program to include two middle schools and two high schools that now serve 1,500 students. Prior to founding the Chávez Schools, Ms. Salcido worked for nine years in the DC Public Schools system. In 2009, she developed the DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative to replicate the Harlem Children’s Zone in the Parkside-Kenilworth neighborhood of Washington, DC. The initiative provides wraparound services for children 0–23 years old who live in this impoverished Ward 7 neighborhood. Under her leadership, the initiative was awarded a planning grant from the US Department of Education to develop one of 21 Promise Neighborhoods in the United States. Over the course of her career, she has received several honors and awards, including the Use Your Life Award from Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network for her dedication to the students of César Chávez.
Randi Weingarten is president of the 1.5-million-member American Federation of Teachers (AFT), AFL-CIO, which represents teachers; paraprofessionals and school-related personnel; higher education faculty and staff; nurses and other health care professionals; local, state and federal employees; and early childhood educators. She was elected in July 2008, following eleven years of service as an AFT vice president. Ms. Weingarten has been a national leader on education reform. Immediately following her election, she launched major efforts to place education reform and innovation high on the nation’s agenda. In 2008, she led the development of the AFT Innovation Fund, a groundbreaking initiative to support sustainable, innovative and collaborative reform projects developed by members and their local unions to strengthen our public schools. Ms. Weingarten served for twelve years as president of the United Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2, representing approximately 200,000 nonsupervisory educators in the New York City public school system, as well as home child care providers and other workers in health, law and education. As a member of the AFT executive council since 1997, she has been involved in every major AFT policy initiative of the last decade. She also served on the AFT executive committee and its democracy committee and headed the professional compensation committee. She has represented the AFT in Europe, the Middle East and Asia as well as at Education International, a worldwide body of democratic teacher trade unions.
James Youniss is research professor of psychology at the Catholic University of America. He has studied normal development in children and youth since the 1960s. He is the author or editor of ten books and over 190 journal articles, chapters and reviews. He has been on editorial boards of several journals and has received research grants from federal agencies (for example, NICCHD, NIMH) and private foundations (for example, William T. Grant, Carnegie Corporation of New York). He has received several awards for his research including a lifetime achievement award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, a senior fellowship from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and a fellowship from the Radcliffe Center for Advanced Studies at Harvard University.
John Zola spent thirty-two years as a high school social studies teacher, most recently at New Vista High School, a “break the mold” public high school in Boulder, Colo., where he was part of the core design team. Throughout his career, Mr. Zola has developed interactive teaching materials, trained colleagues in active learning strategies and Socratic seminars and presented workshops that help teachers make the voice and work of students central in the classroom. Many of these workshops were presented in countries of the former Soviet Union, where they helped to promote the skills and dispositions needed in the new democracies. Mr. Zola currently conducts professional development programs on civic education, Socratic seminars and student-centered teaching strategies in a variety of locations in the United States, Central Europe and Asia.
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Preparing Pluribus for Unum Historical Perspectives on Civic Education-Johanek
Digital Opportunities for Civic Education- Kahne, Ullman, Middaugh
Education for Civil Society- Levine
Diversity and Civic Education- Levinson
What Students Know About Civics and Government- Niemi
Dry to Dynamic Civic Education Curricula- Saavedra
How to Enrich Civic Education and Sustain Democracy- Youniss
Civic Education in Traditional Public, Charter, and Private Schools-Campbell