Back in September, we released a report entitled Civic Health and Unemployment: Can Engagement Strengthen the Economy? It was based on an analysis of all 50 states and 50 major metro areas and found that their levels of civic engagement before the recession strongly predicted how well they have weathered the economic crisis. I wrote about the study in a HuffPost piece that still seems to draw regular tweets. And now former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former Senator and Governor Bob Graham (D-FL) have made the study the focus of a joint op-ed in USA Today, entitled “Jobs and Civics Go Hand in Hand.”
Both of these leaders are dedicating extraordinary attention to civic education and civic renewal:
- O’Connor co-chairs the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, founded iCivics to produce computer games for civic education, and speaks tirelessly about civic education–for instance, at a recent interactive session with Chicago youth.
- Graham, who taught civics in a Miami high school while he was a state legislator, wrote America, the Owner’s Manual: Making Government Work for You as an alternative primer on civics and has made the Bob Graham Center at University of Florida into a leader on civic education at the k-12 and college levels.
We should be especially grateful because these two citizens are about as busy as you can possibly be in “retirement.” Graham chairs the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, served on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, and co-chaired the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, whose report has been unusually well reviewed. He has also published a thriller this year. O’Connor hears cases, writes children’s books, serves on boards, and advocates for redistricting and judicial reform.