Opinion
Curriculum Letter to the Editor

Civic Engagement: Tilted Toward Affluent Students?

May 18, 2009 1 min read

To the Editor:

In response to “Youths’ Civic Engagement Seen to Rise” (April 22, 2009), which reports on research findings showing that young people today are voting in greater percentages and volunteering more while still in high school, compared with their parents’ generation:

After reading your article, I couldn’t decide whether or not I should run around waving my hands in victory, as one of many who have spent decades trying to reverse a steady trend of youth disengagement in America. Tempering my enthusiasm was the research showing that most of the young people who do become civically involved are fairly well-to-do and expect to attend college. They are asked to join in civic efforts, provided with classroom activities to heighten their awareness of societal issues, and expected to demonstrate how they use their learning to make a difference in the larger world. It is mostly disadvantaged and low-achieving students who are not asked or prepared to solve common problems of a larger community.

When I served on the National Commission on Service-Learning, we came across this same phenomenon of a two-track system through which more-affluent students receive an active, problem-solving curriculum, while poor and underachieving students receive a passive curriculum focused on preparing for state tests. While developing our recommendation on whether every student should have an annual civic or service experience built into the school curriculum, or whether exemptions should be made for some students, we turned to Cameron Dary, an 11-year-old student and a member of our group. He convinced us to be widely inclusive by asking, “Shouldn’t all kids in America be equal and learn how to contribute?”

The research cited in your article supports what Cameron knew: What students do in school is strongly related to what they do later on in life. Maybe now, in a new age of valuing service, we might gain a consensus about an essential element of education for each and every child: how to be part of a self-renewing democracy. When that happens, both my hands will rise with joy.

Carl Glickman

Athens, Ga.

A version of this article appeared in the May 20, 2009 edition of Education Week as Civic Engagement: Tilted Toward Affluent Students?

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
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
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
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
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Washington Data Processing Representative - (WAVA)
Tacoma, Washington, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Proposal Writer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
CCLC Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools

Read Next

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
Curriculum Whitepaper
Survey: Increased ebook usage & value amid COVID-19
With COVID-19 altering nearly all aspects of daily life, including the way students learn, this survey sought insight from those on the f...
Content provided by OverDrive
Curriculum Opinion Ian Rowe Discusses 1776 Unites and His Efforts to Promote a Vision of a Unified America
Ian Rowe, co-founder of 1776 Unites, discusses the initiative and its efforts to promote pathways to opportunity for Americans of all races.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Curriculum From ‘Stunning’ to ‘Surprising’: How News of the Capitol Attack Was Repackaged for Schools
Experts criticized ed-tech company Newsela for sugarcoating the violent insurrection when it adapted an Associated Press story for schools.
6 min read
A man dressed as George Washington and holding a Trump flag kneels and prays near the Washington Monument on Jan. 6.
A man dressed as George Washington and holding a Trump flag kneels and prays near the Washington Monument on Jan. 6.
Carolyn Kaster/AP
Curriculum 6 Ways to Help Students Make Sense of the Capitol Siege
A week after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, teachers are helping students figure out how the country got to this point.
15 min read
Image of the Capitol building shown in a rearview mirror.
Macrocosm Photography/E+