We are not born knowing the values of democracy or with the civic knowledge and skills to be an informed and engaged citizen. All Americans must acquire the civic knowledge and skills to participate. While the family, the community and religious institutions all play a part in helping to develop civic knowledge and skills, our schools are the one universal place we all experience that helps develop our civic disposition and knowledge. For over two hundred years, this has been the civic mission of American schools, a mission as important to our nation’s future as helping students develop the skills for higher education and the workplace. In recent years, the civic mission of our schools has been increasingly marginalized. Many reports and studies document the decline in effective civic learning in our schools, please view our Reports and Research sections for more information on this decline and information on effective civic learning. It’s up to all of us, educators, policymakers, parents and all citizens to ensure our schools have the tools they need to provide effective civic learning for all students. Our nation’s future depends on an informed and engaged citizenry, that starts with effective civic learning for every student preK-Higher Education.

The Campaign offers a number of tools and suggestions for all parents and citizens to help restore the civic mission of every school:

  • See the Campaign’s Six Proven Practices for civic learning, see how many of these effective civic learning strategies are used in schools in your area.
  • Visit our Links for information on civic learning programs and resources available to all schools.

What You Can Do:

  • If you are a parent, encourage your child to take an interest in their community, state and nation. Discuss current events with your child, studies show that children who come from homes where current events are discussed are much more likely to be civically aware and engaged. Ensure your child is registered to vote as soon as they turn 18. Encourage your child to participate in civic learning related extra-curricular programs and simulations at their schools;
  • Visit your local school to find out what civic learning experiences they provide their students, be sure to talk with the social studies teachers to learn about offerings and impediments to effective civic learning;
  • Visit your local school district to determine the district’s approach to civic learning, encourage local school board members and superintendents to pay more attention to civic learning;
  • Volunteer at your children’s school or a local school to help educators provide effective civic learning programs, schools welcome volunteers, volunteers with civic expertise can help teachers in providing exceptional civic learning;
  • Join the Parent Teacher Organization at your local school and encourage the PTO to support effective civic learning;
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper advocating more and better civic learning opportunities for all students;
  • Encourage your local broadcast stations to provide coverage of local students civic learning activities;
  • Contact your state legislator, state Board of Education members and Governor and urge that they support education policies that allow high-quality civic learning to happen in every school in your state. Hold local and state policymakers accountable for ensuring that every student in your community and state receives high quality civic learning that allows them to develop the civic knowledge and skills to be informed and engaged citizens;

 

Website made possible by generous funding from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools is a Project of the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics of the Annenberg Public Policy Center University of Pennsylvania.