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The Civic Mission of Schools: Protecting our Democracy

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and several civics and history teachers discuss the importance of civic education and the need to reinvigorate it in our nation's schools. 

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (clip 1)

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announces the new report, "Guardian of Democracy: The Civic Mission of Schools," and the consequences of civics not being taught.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (clip 2)

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor expresses shock and disbelief that half of schools don't teach civics.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (clip 3)

"Our country depends on the participation of citizens..."

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (clip 4)

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor connects civics to the origin of public schools in the U.S.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (clip 5)

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor discusses new ways to teach civics, including her site

Civics Teacher Allison Cohen (clip 1)

"We need to teach our students to make arguments, not have arguments."

Civics Teacher Allison Cohen (clip 2)

"Students need to know how democracy works if they are to effect change"

Civics Teacher Allison Cohen (clip 3)

"...any move to make civics an elective rather than a required course is quite troubling..."

Civics Teacher Allison Cohen (clip 4)

"....1/3 of Americans cannot name the three branches of government..."

Civics Teacher Allison Cohen (clip 5)

"....civics education is more than what you read in a text book..."

Civics Teacher Jonathan Williams (clip 1)

Says civics is vital to teaching kids to think for themselves.

Civics Teacher Jonathan Williams (clip 2)

Why civics is important as a way to teach young people their rights and duties.

Civics Teacher Jonathan Williams (clip 3)

Speaks about the importance of connecting civics to student's lives.

Civics Teacher Jonathan Leong (clip 1)

"...if they don't receive the education now, when it is their turn they aren't going to know what to do..."

Civics Teacher Jonathan Leong (clip 2)

"Every single act we do throughout the day is affected by government..."

Gunderson High, San Jose, CA Teachers - Clip 1

Sonia Rebelo and Gerson Castro, government teachers at Gunderson High, San Jose, CA, discuss why civics should be a required course. The U.S. is a society driven by civics, politics and leadership, therefore students should know how government and leadership work and their role in it.

Gunderson High, San Jose, CA Teachers - Clip 2

Everyone's voice needs to be heard in such a large and diverse country and a strong civic education teaches empathy.

Gunderson High, San Jose, CA Teachers - Clip 3

The consequences of a democracy where the public lacks awareness of how it works can be pretty catastrophic. We end up having a government that gets away with things it shouldn't because people aren't paying attention and aren't educated... it stops being a democracy.

Gunderson High, San Jose, CA Teachers - Clip 4

How do we empower our students to believe they can actually make a difference as citizens? We educate them about the importance of democratic participation! Lack of awareness leads to a society of apathy.

Gunderson High, San Jose, CA Teachers - Clip 5

Civic education should begin at the earliest levels and should take place at home as well. The Pledge of Allegiance isn't enough—civic education should be threaded throughout one's entire education.

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.