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Putting civics to the test: The impact of state-level civics assessments on civic knowledge

In sharp contrast to the large literature on assessments’ effects regarding math and reading, very few studies have examined what effect, if any, statewide assessments in civics and related subjects have on civic education. And to the extent that there has been any research on state-level policies regarding civic education—including but not limited to assessments—these studies have concluded that these policies have no discernible effect on civic attitudes and behavior.[5] Yet these studies are few, so notwithstanding their null findings, this paper proceeds from the premise that the issue is not yet settled and thus poses the question anew: do civics assessments matter for civic education?

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ICYMI: ‘Brothers Forever’: A book forum and Memorial Day discussion featuring General John Allen (ret.)

Memorial Day challenges the American people to ask whether the sacrifices made in defense of the country entail any correlating duty on their part. On Thursday, May 22, 2014,  scholars gathered with author Tom Sileo and General John Allen, USMC (Ret.), at AEI to discuss this question in the context of “Brothers Forever,” a book […]

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The Practice of Science in a Democratic Society

The Practice of Science in a Democratic Society
By Austin L. Hughes
(March 2014)

René Descartes, one of the founding figures of modern science, predicted that the new mechanistic approach to understanding the natural world would yield great benefits for humanity, particularly with regard to improving health and longevity. For this reason, Descartes argued that public funds should be used to support scientific research. Descartes proved to be prophetic on both counts. The benefits of science have far exceeded anything Descartes could have imagined, and the public funding of science has become an accepted role of government in every industrially advanced nation. The result has been the creation of a new profession—that of scientist—unknown to Descartes and his contemporaries, whose scientific investigations remained the self-supported avocations of gentlemen of independent means.

The general public and their elected representatives seem to agree that scientific research is an important, even necessary, component of a modern economy. But the scientific profession is not without its contradictions. Government funding of science is justified by the argument that scientific research benefits the public, but modern science has become so technical and specialized that the public are rarely able to appreciate the potential value of the research their taxes fund. Scientific literacy remains low even in the most technologically advanced societies. The fact that science is mysterious to the general public has helped endow its practitioners with an aura of wonder in the popular mind. As a result, scientists have increasingly become accustomed to thinking of themselves as constituting an all-knowing elite that need answer to few or none.

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ICYMI: Transforming Army ROTC with Gen. Jack Keane and Maj. Gen. Jefforey Smith

Today, the US Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) has more than 30,000 cadets enrolled nationwide and some 275 universities hosting full ROTC programs. And with the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, ROTC has been welcomed back on campuses where it once had vibrant programs.

However, as Major General Jefforey A. Smith noted upon taking up his command, the ROTC “program that we have in place today is exactly the same program that I went through between 1980 and 1983 at Ohio State University.” And changing demographics will require the Army to better maximize its limited resources to effectively train cadets and to produce an officer corps that reflects America’s geographic and social diversity.

To discuss how best to move Army ROTC into the future, Major General Smith sat down for a conversation with General Jack Keane, an ROTC graduate and former Army vice chief of staff.

Watch the full video after the jump:

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NEW Policy Brief: Architects and Citizenship

In the latest addition to “The Professions and Civic Culture” series, Williams College professor of art history Michael J. Lewis discusses the idea of “architectural citizenship” and the role architects play in American civic life. According to Lewis, the making of any building is a social act that stakes a claim on finite resources of land and space and that can enhance the value of the buildings around it or diminish it. Only the most solitary and remote building is without implications for society.

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The return of ROTC to New York City

This fall, Army ROTC officially began classes at the City College of New York, ending a 41-year absence. The program will serve as headquarters for a new partnership between the Army and the City University of New York, intended to make ROTC more accessible to New York City students. It also marks a broader move by the military to reengage with areas currently underserved by recruiting policy and to realign the ROTC footprint so that it produces an officer corps more representative of American society.

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Slavery and the Constitution: An immoral compromise?

On Tuesday evening, AEI’s Program on American Citizenship hosted the second annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture. Michael Zuckert of the University of Notre Dame spoke on the topic of slavery at the constitutional convention.

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Toqueville’s “Most Powerful Barrier”: Lawyers in Civic Society

In the latest addition to “The Professions and Civic Culture” series, Weekly Standard contributor and Washington, DC lawyer Adam J. White discusses the evolution of American lawyers. His essay, “Tocqueville’s ‘Most Powerful Barrier’: Lawyers in Civic Society,” argues that profound changes in the legal profession have undermined lawyers’ role as a natural brake against the “revolutionary spirit and unreflective passions of democracy” that Alexis de Tocqueville admired in 19th century American lawyers.

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The Role of Political Science and Political Scientists in Civic Education

In the latest addition to “The Professions and Civic Culture” series, University of Virginia professor James W. Ceaser discusses the divided state of modern political science. His essay, “The Role of Political Science and Political Scientists in Civic Education,” argues that the field has moved in two opposing directions — one toward greater concern with civic education, with an emphasis on producing engaged citizens who can transform the political order, and the other (and more dominant one) toward a positivist political research agenda that is agnostic about the principles and ends of the American constitutional order.

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Music and Civic Life in America

In our latest policy brief, Ashbrook Center fellow David Tucker and musician Nathan Tucker consider the place of music in our civic culture. The authors note how American civic music has changed over time, becoming less religious, less programmatic, and more sentimental. In describing the evolution of American music, they touch on a range of styles and genres, from jazz to the American musical to Aaron Copland’s civic music to the folk music of the Sixties to the gangster rap of Tupac Shakur.

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Can you pass the U.S. Citizenship test?

The U.S. Citizenship Test is a required step in the naturalization process. All U.S. citizenship applicants, with some exceptions, must pass the citizenship test before taking the Oath of Allegiance and officially becoming U.S. citizens. Do you have what it takes to be a citizen? Take the test after the jump.

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InTheMedia

The Dangers of Cutting Civics Testing

Last month, the “nation’s report card” eliminated civics testing for 4th and 12th graders under the auspices of budget cuts, while introducing new testing programs designed to assess students’ Internet literacy. In an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor, Gary Schmitt and Cheryl Miller explain why these cuts to civics education are so worrisome.

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Does Obama care that US students aren’t prepared to be citizens?

The US Department of Education’s decision to indefinitely postpone nearly all national exams in civics and US history eliminates the only objective gauge of whether students are learning basic US history and the essential skills needed to be good citizens. Sadly, we already know they aren’t.

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Can ROTC Solve Its Minority Problem?

In the Atlantic, Colin Daileda writes about the challenges the military faces in accessing minority officers—and how the return of big city ROTC can help. Daileda follows the progress of new ROTC units at schools affiliated with the City University of New York (CUNY) and notes how their success could lead to a more diverse officer corps.

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