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Civic Education and the Common Core

The implementation of the Common Core State Standards represents a tremendous opportunity to rethink educational priorities and promote civic education. However, Web Hutchins, writing for Education Week, argues that the current version of the standards almost entirely neglect to address civics, leaving students unprepared to engage in our democracy.

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Lessons in Citizenship

In Philanthropy Magazine, Naomi Schaefer Riley writes about philanthropic efforts to strengthen civic learning in American schools. Riley highlights programs by the Gilder Lehrman Institute, the Bill of Rights Institute, and What So Proudly We Hail by AEI’s own Leon R. Kass and his wife Amy.

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Common core, social studies, and charter schools

On Monday, March 25, the AEI Education team is hosting an all-day conference to discuss the Common Core State Standards and how they complement (or conflict) with school reform agendas that states are already pursuing. There are many great panel discussions throughout the day, but of particular interest is the third panel, on charter schooling and social studies standards. The Program on American Citizenship has released a number of case studies that examine how different charter schools approach teaching social studies and civic education—and we’ll be publishing a couple more studies in the coming weeks. Indeed, one of our authors, Robin Lake (who coauthored, with Cheryl Miller, Strengthening the Civic Mission of Charter Schoolswill be a discussant on Monday’s panel. She will be joined by Jeanne Allen (Center for Education Reform), Russell Armstrong (Office of the Louisiana Governor), and Peter Meyer (Thomas B. Fordham Institute).

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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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Squishiness watch

Following on the heels of CIRCLE’s recent report showing that most states do not significantly test high school students in social studies or civics, a “draft framework” for common social studies standards is scheduled to be released at the upcoming conference of the National Council of Social Studies on November 17.

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Friday roundup

  • Writing in the spring issue of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, Yale law professor Heather K. Gerken argues that liberals should take a more favorable view of federalism, if simply because a more decentralized system would provide a greater voice on the local level to minorities and political dissenters.
  • The Sunlight Foundation announced earlier this month that its Open States Project now has information available for all 50 states, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, making it the “first and only completely open, completely free resource for accessing legislative information in a uniform format across all 50 states.” Check it out here.
  • Missed Common Core’s Truant From School: History, Science and Art event last  week? Read the event highlights here.
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    Truant From School: History, Science, and Art

    We’ve noted before that many teachers think that the emphasis on testing in language arts and math is crowding out learning in other subject areas such as civics and social studies. For our friends in the D.C . area, later this week Common Core will be hosting a panel discussion on the topic.

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    Crowding out the curriculum

    Supporting the findings of our own teacher survey, a new national survey of over a thousand public school teachers finds that most think the emphasis on testing in language arts and math is crowding out learning in other subject areas–such as civics and social studies. Ninety percent of the surveyed teachers say that when a subject is included in the state’s system of testing, it is taken more seriously, and 80 percent of the respondents reported that “‘more and more’ of the time they should be spending on teaching students is spent on ‘paperwork and reporting requirements to meet state standards.’”

    EdWeek has a good write up of the results here; Common Core–who commissioned the research–sifts through some important findings here; and you can view the whole survey for yourself here.

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