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New CIRCLE Report on Youth Political and Civic Engagement

Yesterday, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) presented a new report on educating America’s youth for civic and political participation at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

The report, “All Together Now: Collaboration and Innovation for Youth Engagement”, written by the Commission on Youth Voting and Civic Knowledge, a multidisciplinary group of scholars convened by CIRCLE. The purpose of this report is to inform Americans about deficiencies in youth civic knowledge and engagement.

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Renewing Civil Society in America

Congrats are due to Peter Levine, director of CIRCLE and Program friend, who was recently appointed as the Lincoln-Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Service and as a research professor in the School of Arts & Sciences philosophy department at Tufts University. If that’s not enough, Peter also has a forthcoming book, We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: The Promise of Civic Renewal in America (Oxford University Press, September 2013).

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Civic learning, digital badges, and alternative assessment

The folks over at the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) have just released a new working paper on civic education: “New and Alternative Assessments, Digital Badges, and Civics: An Overview of Emerging Themes and Promising Directions.” Building on their previous research looking at the way states test (or don’t test) their students on social studies or civics, this study takes a look at alternative assessment mechanisms that can test students’ knowledge and civic skills. Instead of just using multiple-choice tests, for example, schools might look at introducing digital badges that students can earn when they have demonstrated some civic skill.

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Immigration and the 2012 election

Immigration reform is quickly becoming an in-the-news issue, as we noted earlier this week with Peter Skerry’s suggestions for what reform might look like. The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) has just joined the conversation, releasing a new fact sheet that uses post-election youth polling to examine young people’s views of immigration. The survey found that only a relatively small portion—7.8%—of young Americans ages 18-24 rated immigration as their top issue in the 2012 election. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those that did, however, overwhelmingly favored liberalizing immigration laws.

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Higher education, liberal arts, and civic education

Last week, Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, spoke to a meeting of 17 college presidents and other representatives of higher education about the civic mission of the university. As more and more emphasis is being placed on higher education as a path to employment, Levine noted, the liberal arts and the civic mission of higher education are being placed on the sideline. But this would be a mistake, he argues, and supporters of these programs “can proudly and forthrightly make the case for both the civic mission of the university and the liberal arts and openly tell our fellow citizens that they should support those things.”

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Millennials civic health index

Earlier this week, the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, and Mobilize.org released a joint report looking at millennials’ civic behavior. Focusing on Americans aged 18 to 29, the report finds that young Americans are civically engaged in a number of different ways, even if only half of them voted in the 2012 presidential election.

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Summer Institute of Civic Studies

The 2013 Summer Institute of Civic Studies at Tisch College, Tufts University, is now accepting applications. Organized by Peter Levine (CIRCLE) and Karol Soltan (University of Maryland), the fifth annual summer program will be an intensive two-week seminar that brings together advanced graduate students, faculty, and practitioners from diverse fields of study to learn about and discuss topics related to citizenship.

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Civics education and Common Core

The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) recently completed a study of the iCivics computer-based teaching module called Drafting Board. iCivics is an online civic education platform founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that seeks to prepare “young Americans to become knowledgeable, engaged 21st century citizens” by providing educational video games and teaching materials available at its website.

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What is civic engagement anyway?

Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), raises the question at his blog about what we actually mean when we use the term “civic engagement.” “There is no single answer to this question, which is deeply contested,” he notes.

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Civic education and voter turnout

The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) recently raised the interesting question of whether civic education laws affected youth voter turnout in the 2012 election. To explore the answer, CIRCLE “compared youth turnout (for citizens between the ages of 18 and 29) in three groups of states[…]. The first group had strengthened their requirements for high school civics or American government courses or statewide tests in civics. The second group already had some requirements in place and did not change them between 2004 and 2012. The third group weakened their course or testing requirements between 2004 and 2012.”

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Citizenship roundup

Here’s an end-of-the-week news roundup for things happening in the citizenship world you may have missed:

Citizenship round-up

Here are some recent happenings in the citizenship world:

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Testing civics

At Education Week, Nora Fleming explores the results of CIRCLE’s recent report examining the civics-related standards, assessments, and course requirements of all 50 states. (We covered the release of the report here.) After noting that the report found that very few states test civics in a meaningful way, Fleming considers what the next steps are for educators.

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Redefining civic knowledge?

We have been following with great interest the release of CIRCLE’s new report that examines the standards, course requirements, and mandatory assessments related to civic education in each of the 50 states.

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Education for a civil society

Writing at the Harvard Education Publishing blog, CIRCLE’s Peter Levine argues that the results of the recent CIRCLE study of each state’s civic education standards and course requirements–which we highlighted here–are not as dire as they may seem. (One such discouraging note from the study is that only eight states nationwide have statewide tests specifically in civics or American government.)

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What’s happening in the citizenship world?

We’ve not had a roundup of news bits from the citizenship world in a while, so here are some recent items that we found interesting:

  • According to the Pew Research Center, youth engagement with politics is down, compared to this time in the 2008 presidential election cycle.
  • The good news, though, is in the “Power of the Ask”.
  • In September, the Library of Congress unveiled the new Congress.gov, to replace the old THOMAS database.
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Civic health and unemployment II: The case builds

Last November, we covered a report by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC)–whose annual national conference, by the way, is today and can be live streamed beginning at 1:00 PM EST here–that made the case that a community’s level of civic engagement was related to its economic success. On Wednesday, NCoC released a follow up to that report: “Civic Health and Unemployment II: The Case Builds.”

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“That’s not democracy.”

With all the recent emphasis on using college as a “crucible moment” to teach students to become civically engaged, it becomes easy to forget that many citizens, whose engagement should also be valued, do not participate in higher education. A recent report by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) looks at the civic engagement of this population.

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Building civic leaders

A couple of months ago, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) released a report looking at the positive effects that the national YouthBuild program has in helping young people from low-income households become civic leaders. The program allows participants to work full-time for 6 to 24 months toward their GEDs or high school diplomas while learning job skills by building affordable housing in their communities.

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Summer Institute of Civic Studies

The fourth annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service is in its second and final week, but it’s not too late to start following along with the class’s reading syllabus, here.

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