Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Poor Children Deserve Better Civics Education

June 07, 2011 1 min read

To the Editor:

Alfie Kohn eloquently states how schools are miserably failing children in “Poor Teaching for Poor Children ... In the Name of School Reform” (April 27, 2011). The “pedagogy of poverty” to which Mr. Kohn refers leads not only to an achievement gap between wealthy and low-income students, but also to a civic achievement gap. Improving the educational system for the powerless requires teachers and schools to invite young people to take action in their communities and political systems. This active civics process is, however, distinctly absent in urban schools. The drill-and-kill approach to teaching low-income children and children of color in order to get them to achieve on standardized tests comes from the same philosophy that says “these kids” can’t engage in the active, experiential, and authentic learning experiences necessary to be active citizens and civic leaders.

Dry theory and rote memorization detached from the reality of students’ communities and the exciting combat of ideas that takes place in the political arena do not inspire engagement, learning, or leadership, nor change the life trajectory of young people. In fact, it has been shown time and time again that this style of teaching fails at achieving its core goal for the large majority of young people it is supposed to help.

My organization’s Action Civics process gives young people voice and power because students do not just study civics, they live civics, and their attitudes toward political participation dramatically change for the better. We believe it is particularly empowering for youths from vulnerable communities with the toughest of social problems.

Anyone who values democracy should recognize the seriousness of the problem of the civic achievement gap. Without the civic participation of all Americans, the strength, stability, and legitimacy of our democracy is at risk.

Jill Bass

Director of Curriculum and Teacher Training

Mikva Challenge

Chicago, Ill.

A version of this article appeared in the June 08, 2011 edition of Education Week as Poor Children Deserve Better Civics Education

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Director of Athletics
Farmington, Connecticut
Farmington Public Schools

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read