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action civics

Calling for more self-government

In his Time Ideas column this week, former Clinton speechwriter Eric Liu calls for citizens to take a more active  role in their self-governance. Liu argues that citizens must step up given our dire financial situation, and quotes former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich approvingly: “if we shrink government then we have to grow citizens.”

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Drafting our kids?

In yesterday’s New York Times, Thomas Ricks, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, echoed a call recently made by General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of international forces in Afghanistan, to bring back the draft.

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Fault lines in our democracy

William E. White writes in the Huffington Post that “Americans have forgotten the reason why we educate children in America. As a result our children, schools, communities, and the nation are suffering. […] We have forgotten that there is only one purpose for an education system in a republic: to educate citizens.”

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Closing the Civic Empowerment Gap

Writing for the Harvard University Press blog, Jessica Gerhardstein Gingold, a former youth council director with Chicago’s Mikva Challenge and an incoming Harvard Graduate School of Education student, uses Meira Levinson’s new book, No Citizen Left Behind, to recount her experiences with action civics.

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Learning by doing

In this morning’s edition of the Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas, Russell Muirhead argues that one reason that civic knowledge is so poor is because Americans are not being called upon to act as citizens–and therefore they have no reason to gain and use the knowledge required to be an active citizen.

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Action Civics: Round II

On Tuesday, we highlighted some differing responses to the Education Department’s new report, “Advancing Civic Learning and Engagement in Democracy.” Much of the debate centers around how much schools (and the federal government) should focus on traditional classroom civics education (emphasizing knowledge about government and American democracy, e.g.) versus a newer model of “action civics,” which focuses on civic participation and service learning.

Yesterday, Teaching America editor David Feith entered the fray.

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Action civics, civic education, and charter schools


“Unlike traditional civic education, civic learning and democratic engagement 2.0 is more ambitious and participatory than in the past. To paraphrase Justice O’Connor, the new generation of civic education initiatives move beyond your ‘grandmother’s civics’ to what has been labeled ‘action civics.'”
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, January 10, 2012

In last week’s EducationNext, Chester E. Finn, Jr. raises some concerns about “action civics” and the politicization of schools that promote it.

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AEI