Duncan, White House Launch Civic Values Initiative

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, along with the White House, has launched a national initiative that elevates the importance of educating students for informed, engaged citizenship. The initiative has kicked off with the release of the Department's report, "Civic Learning and Engagement in Democracy: A Road Map and Call to Action".

This comes as the final report from the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement, "A Crucible Moment: College Learning & Democracy's Future," is published.

Secretary Duncan said:

"Today's students are tomorrow's leaders, and giving them a strong foundation in civic values is critical to the vitality of America's democracy and economy in the 21st century.

"This call to action is an opportunity to develop and improve civic learning as part of a well-rounded education so every student has a sense of citizenship."

These reports are to encourage policymakers and education leaders to start a series of discussions about advancing civic learning throughout the education pipeline.

"These discussions will be structured around the five priorities for action developed by the National Task Force and the American Commonwealth Partnership, bringing together schools, colleges and other partners to promote civic learning and civic identity throughout American education.

"While America's democratic ideals remain a model for the world, civic knowledge and democratic participation in the United States are far from exceptional."

Less than 30 percent of 4th, 8th and 12th-grade students were proficient in civics, and a significant civic achievement gap persists among racial and ethnic groups, shows the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Civics report.

"On a 2007 international ranking of 172 democracies, the United States ranked 139th in voter participation."

The Road Map looks to highlight 9 steps the Department will take to advance civic learning and democratic engagement, including:

  • Adding civic indicators to national student surveys
  • Promoting public service internships and careers
  • And leveraging federal programs and public-private partnerships

More than 75 national and local organizations – including higher education institutions, scholars and philanthropists – have announced statements of commitment to foster civic learning and democratic engagement in American education. They have outlined their plans to advance this mission in 2012, said the White House.

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