The Return of Civic Education: NCLB Is Only the Latest Nail in the Coffin of Civic Education, Whose Demise Began in the 1960s. However, Mr. Walling Reports, Organizations Such as the Center for Civic Education Are Beginning to Achieve Success in Their Efforts to Revive the Subject

By Walling, Donovan R. | Phi Delta Kappan, December 2007 | Go to article overview

The Return of Civic Education: NCLB Is Only the Latest Nail in the Coffin of Civic Education, Whose Demise Began in the 1960s. However, Mr. Walling Reports, Organizations Such as the Center for Civic Education Are Beginning to Achieve Success in Their Efforts to Revive the Subject


Walling, Donovan R., Phi Delta Kappan


IT'S STANDING room only in the fourth-floor hearing room in California's state capitol. The packed gallery is hushed. Five individuals in dark suits sit at a long table in front of a three-judge panel. The judges pepper them with tough questions, but these witnesses' answers are complete, succinct, and utterly convincing. When the grilling ends, the gallery erupts in applause.

No one clamors for order because this is not just another hearing in Sacramento. The "witnesses" are high school seniors, and the "hearing" is part of an academic competition testing students' knowledge of the Constitution and other founding documents at the We the People state finals.

We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution is a core civics curriculum developed by the Center for Civic Education for fourth- through 12th-grade students. It is designed to teach students about their constitutional heritage so that they will become knowledgeable, thoughtful citizens of our democracy, and it does so in a way that is engaging and exciting.

The California finalists' enthusiasm bears witness. Usually this degree of excitement among high school students is associated with annual athletic tournaments. But this is State with a capital S. The students have come to Sacramento in February from across California, some 350 high-schoolers (mostly seniors), along with their teachers and coaches and many of their parents. They represent 12 schools, all regional winners, from communities large and small, wealthy and poor. The class of 15 students that takes first place at State will join winning classes from the other 49 states and the District of Columbia--nearly 1,200 students in all--when the national finals take place in Washington, D.C., in April. This annual sequence of hearings and competitions has been going on for 20 years.

For these students in these schools, civic education is alive and thriving. This isn't universally true across the country. But civic education is making a comeback. It's returning from a wilderness also populated by the arts, social studies in general, physical education, and all of the other subjects that fall outside the narrow national focus prescribed by No Child Left Behind, subjects that once were deemed vital for a well-rounded, dare I use the term "liberal," education. As prominent civic education scholar Margaret Stimmann Branson recently commented, "Although No Child Left Behind legislation speaks of 'core learning,' only reading and mathematics are used as measures of schools' success. Science is a poor third. And civic education is forgotten."(1)

THE DECLINE OF CIVIC EDUCATION

Truth be told, civic education began wandering in the curricular wilderness in the 1960s, when, according to Center for Civic Education Executive Director Charles Quigley, "Vietnam and then Watergate brought disenchantment, rebellion, experimentation, a loss of faith in traditional institutions and traditional leaders, the breakup of consensus, the weakening of the core culture," and ultimately the erosion of curricular requirements in civic education.(2) In 1990 the National Assessment of Educational Progress "Report Card in Civics" concluded that America's students had only a superficial knowledge of civics. But it wasn't until the late 1990s that many educators began to take notice.

In 2002 the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), in partnership with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, convened a series of meetings involving leading scholars and civic education practitioners to consider the current state of young people's civic learning and engagement. The participants' conclusions and recommendations were summarized in a 2003 report titled The Civic Mission of Schools. The authors stated the matter bluntly: "School-based civic education is in decline."(3)

"The movement for high-stakes testing," the authors wrote, "has had a huge impact on education nationally: schools are under unprecedented pressure to raise student achievement, which is now measured by standardized examinations of reading and mathematics. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Return of Civic Education: NCLB Is Only the Latest Nail in the Coffin of Civic Education, Whose Demise Began in the 1960s. However, Mr. Walling Reports, Organizations Such as the Center for Civic Education Are Beginning to Achieve Success in Their Efforts to Revive the Subject
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.