| Updated: November 26, 2019

Citizen Z: An Education Week Project

Teaching Civics in a Divided Nation


Illustration: Stephanie Shafer for Education Week

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U.S. public education is rooted in the belief by early American leaders that the most important knowledge to impart to young people is what it means to be a citizen. If America is experiencing a civic crisis now, as many say it is, schools may well be failing at that job.


To better understand the role of education in the current crisis, Education Week has undertaken a long-term investigation with support from the Education Writers Association’s Reporting Fellowship grant program. We brought together an advisory group of experts in civic education, visited classrooms, and conducted surveys. The first results of that work follow.







Teaching Civics in Hyper-Partisan Times
FREE EVENT

Teaching Civics in Hyper-Partisan Times

Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020 | 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. CST

Join us for a live event in Minneapolis that explores the tensions in teaching students about civic education and the ways schools can overcome them.








Math: The Most Powerful Civics Lesson You've Never Had

Math: The Most Powerful Civics Lesson You've Never Had

November 26, 2019

A handful of educators across the country are quietly making the case that math may be the missing piece in civics education.








For Students in Coal Country, the Census Is a Hands-On Civics Lesson

For Students in Coal Country, the Census Is a Hands-On Civics Lesson

November 12, 2019

In rural communities with shrinking populations, schools are enlisting students to help prevent the U.S. Census Bureau from undercounting them next year.








A 'Roadmap' for Teaching Civics and History Is Coming. Will It Restart an Old Curriculum War?

A 'Roadmap' for Teaching Civics and History Is Coming. Will It Restart an Old Curriculum War?

November 5, 2019

Funding from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities will finance an effort to strengthen content and teaching in the subjects. But the project will need to sidestep the issues that sank a 1994 effort.








Participate, But Know Your Place: Young Civic Activists Get Mixed Messages

Participate, But Know Your Place: Young Civic Activists Get Mixed Messages

October 4, 2019

Schools, celebrities, and lawmakers have long urged young people to get involved in local and national issues, but the young activists calling for action to stop gun violence or climate change find that their civic involvement isn’t always welcomed.








Teaching Impeachment in Politically Risky Times

Teaching Impeachment in Politically Risky Times

October 3, 2019

Whether they like it or not, civics teachers are at the frontlines of translating the impeachment process for the next generation of citizens.








Which States Saw a Surge in Teenage Voters in 2018?

Which States Saw a Surge in Teenage Voters in 2018?

September 20, 2019

As many as 1 in 3 eligible 18- and 19-year-olds voted in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, and Oregon in last year's mid-term elections, new data show. Did civics education help?








Could Testing Wreck Civics Education?

Could Testing Wreck Civics Education?

September 17, 2019

Educators are looking beyond standardized tests to determine whether the lessons empower students to embrace civic behaviors, like voting or volunteering.









How 3 States Are Digging In on Civics Education

How 3 States Are Digging In on Civics Education

June 26, 2019

As growing numbers of states jump on the civics-learning bandwagon, a coalition of 90 national groups warns that some strategies are better than others. Here's a look at three states working toward a comprehensive approach to the topic.









Few Student Board Members Can Vote. Should That Change?

Few Student Board Members Can Vote. Should That Change?

June 12, 2019

At a time when districts say they want to prioritize student voice and civics, student board positions tend to be advisory, rather than consequential.








Schools Teach Civics. Do They Model It?

Schools Teach Civics. Do They Model It?

May 7, 2019

A group of Colorado students who led a peaceful protest at their school learned a hard lesson about civics from school administrators—and it didn’t come from textbooks.








What Are Students' Constitutional Rights?

What Are Students' Constitutional Rights?

May 7, 2019

The First Amendment looks different in schools. (So do the 4th, 5th, 8th, and 14th.)








'Even 'Digital Natives' May Need Lessons on Online Political Discourse

Even 'Digital Natives' May Need Lessons on Online Political Discourse

April 30, 2019

New research suggests that students who’ve learned about media literacy and participatory politics in school are more likely to take part in political activity online.








'Action Civics' Enlists Students in Hands-On Democracy

'Action Civics' Enlists Students in Hands-On Democracy

March 20, 2019

An activist brand of civics instruction is gaining champions and a few critics in the nation's schools.








Are Today's Young Civic Activists in It for the Long Haul?

Are Today's Young Civic Activists in It for the Long Haul?

February 12, 2019

Nearly a year later, the March for Our Lives movement can point to electoral and legislative wins and losses, some converts, and some dropouts. Can they keep it going?









Student Journalism Classes Going Strong, Poll Finds

Student Journalism Classes Going Strong, Poll Finds

February 12, 2019

Despite harsh criticism from President Trump, shrinking job prospects, and safety threats, student interest in journalism has risen or held steady in many high schools, a new survey shows.









Is the Time Right to Make Education a Constitutional Right?

Is the Time Right to Make Education a Constitutional Right?

December 11, 2018

The odds may be long for a newly filed lawsuit that asserts students have a Constitutional right to civics learning, but some experts say the timing is spot on.









Students Learn to Put the 'Civil' in Civil Discourse

Students Learn to Put the 'Civil' in Civil Discourse

November 27, 2018

In an age of political divisiveness, teachers are finding new ways to teach students how to have calm, reasoned discussions about hot-button issues.









Lessons on U.S. Constitution Find New Relevance

Lessons on U.S. Constitution Find New Relevance

November 27, 2018

Is the current political climate rekindling interest in teaching about the U.S. Constitution? That's what some civics teachers, law experts, and leaders of national groups are saying.









'It's Like a High School Girl Fight': Talking Politics With Students After Election Day

'It's Like a High School Girl Fight': Talking Politics With Students After Election Day

November 8, 2018

In two AP Government classes in Winchester, Va., students are more interested in results from local races than in Donald Trump, but they’re pumped to be part of the electoral process.









The Midterm Elections in the Classroom: Why They Matter, and How Teachers Are Preparing

The Midterm Elections in the Classroom: Why They Matter, and How Teachers Are Preparing

November 1, 2018

In the kickoff of a blog series leading up to the midterm elections, Curriculum Matters explore how one teacher approached the topic of ballot initiatives.







Is America's Next Generation of Voters Ready for the Job?

Is America's Next Generation of Voters Ready for the Job?

October 29, 2018

A majority of potential first-time voters plan to cast a ballot this election season, according to a new Education Week Research Center survey. What's spurring their political engagement?









Where Prospective, First-Time Voters Get Informed

Where Prospective, First-Time Voters Get Informed

October 29, 2018

How do young voters decide how to vote? An Education Week Research Center poll shows they are pulling their information from a long list of in-person and online sources.









How History Class Divides Us

How History Class Divides Us

October 23, 2018

What if the inability of Americans to agree on our shared history—and on the right way to teach it—is a cause of our current polarization and political dysfunction, rather than a symptom?









Data: Most States Require History, But Not Civics

Data: Most States Require History, But Not Civics

October 23, 2018

High school students spend far more time in school learning about America’s history than they do learning about its civic values, according to a 50-state survey by Education Week.









Citizen Activists Push to Revise History Textbooks

Citizen Activists Push to Revise History Textbooks

October 23, 2018

History-minded residents of Charlotte County, Fla., are among the first to test a state law that permits citizens to challenge the curriculum taught in their schools.