Civic Education: Is There Common Ground?

[The video just plays the introduction. Here is a link to all the separate talks.]

This is the video from a panel at the American Federation of Teachers’ Albert Shanker Institute on Wednesday. The panelists are: Leo Casey, Executive Director, Albert Shanker Institute, Jessica Marshall, co-author, “Let’s Go There: Making A Case for Race, Ethnicity and a Lived Civics Approach to Civic Education;” doctoral candidate, Northwestern University; former Director of Social Science and Civic Engagement for the Chicago Public Schools, Robert Pondiscio, Senior Fellow and Vice President for External Affairs, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Joe Rogers, Director of Public Engagement and Government Affairs, Center for Educational Equity, Teachers College, Columbia University, and me. The moderator is Marla Ucelli-Kashyap, Assistant to the President for Educational Issues, American Federation of Teachers.

I thought the panel reflected some real diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, and opinions, yet we managed to stay focused on a common question: Is there common ground for civic education? My colleagues offered many important insights. My own view, for what it’s worth, is that common ground is available so long as we focus on the vessel into which the content of civics is poured: the need for courses, prepared teachers, funding for materials, etc. Once we begin to discuss how America should be presented to students, disagreements inevitably–and appropriately–arise. Content is the question that excites the most popular interest and concern, from a range of perspectives, and it must be addressed. But we don’t really know to what extent the content of robust civics programs would differ if they developed in more conservative and progressive communities.

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.