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Civic Learning and Engagement

In remarks at the 2011 iCivics conference on “Educating for Democracy in a Digital Age,” US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pointed out that when polled, nearly two-thirds of Americans failed to name all three branches of government. Less than half of the public can name a single Supreme Court justice. And more than a quarter can’t identify which nation America fought in the Revolutionary War.

When Newsweek asked one thousand Americans to take the US citizenship test, almost 40 percent failed. Nearly a third could not name the current vice president. And roughly three-quarters could not explain why we waged the Cold War (Romano, 2011).

This lack of basic civic knowledge reflects weak learning at the school level. According to the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), less than one-third of American fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders are proficient in civics. In the NAEP’s “roles of citizens” component, only 27 percent of seniors could identify two privileges US citizens have that non-citizens don’t, and only 8 percent were able to list two responsibilities of citizens.

Read the full story @ Change – The Magazine for Higher Learning.

Published in News