Opinion
Curriculum Letter to the Editor

Schools Should Develop Students’ Civic Identities

November 13, 2012 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

While it is unclear how many times a teenager can be forced to recite the checks and balances between the three branches of government before becoming comatose, it is crystal clear that such “lessons” still constitute the bulk of civics education in American classrooms.

Also obvious is that such lessons produce the type of testable data that the education industry prefers for its data-driven assessment tools and matrices.

Co-optation by the attendant “not tested, not taught” mind-set haunts civics advocates pushing for meaningful civics curricula in the new Common Core State Standards landscape. Your article “Student Mastery of Civics Ed. Goes Untested” (Oct. 17, 2012) highlighted the lack of consensus about what civics content should be taught.

The new Civics for All Initiative in Seattle, which is asking the school board to adopt a policy of civics instruction across our district’s entire K-12 curriculum, might offer some perspectives.

The initiative calls for one civics classroom-based assessment, or CBA, for grades K-5 and two civics CBAs for grades 6-12, in addition to other requirements. The approach depends on a vertically integrated, spiral curriculum wherein essential questions and civics principles are revisited in a scaffolded K-12 plan that kindles each student’s civic identity.

The academic development of a students’ credo, or civic code, is best fostered through a political science lens because it is relevant to all civic issues, current events, and, crucially, to already-required social studies topics. As Aristotle suggested, civics is politics and politics is civics.

Web Hutchins

Civics, Social Studies, and Language Arts Teacher

South Lake High School

Seattle, Wash.

The writer is the founder of the Civics for All Initiative.

A version of this article appeared in the November 15, 2012 edition of Education Week as Schools Should Develop Students’ Civic Identities

Events

Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
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
Families & the Community Webinar
How Whole-Child Student Data Can Strengthen Family Connections
Learn how district leaders can use these actionable strategies to increase family engagement in their student’s education and boost their academic achievement.
Content provided by Panorama Education
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
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
The School to Workforce Gap: How Are Schools Setting Students Up For Life & Lifestyle Success?
Hear from education and business leaders on how schools are preparing students for their leap into the workforce.
Content provided by Find Your Grind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Curriculum The World Cup as Teachable Moment? How One Teacher Approached It
It's not just a game: Geopolitics are inscribed into the soccer championship, giving teachers an opportunity to host rich discussions.
3 min read
Josh Sargent of the United States controls the ball during the World Cup, group B soccer match between the United States and Wales, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.
Josh Sargent of the United States controls the ball during the a World Cup match between the United States and Wales in Doha, Qatar, on Nov. 21.
Francisco Seco/AP
Curriculum Nearly 300 Books Removed From Schools Under Missouri's 'Sexually Explicit Materials' Law
Missouri's efforts to remove books from public schools—either temporarily or permanently—go farther than most.
5 min read
Banned books are visible at the Central Library, a branch of the Brooklyn Public Library system, in New York City on Thursday, July 7, 2022. The books are banned in several public schools and libraries in the U.S., but young people can read digital versions from anywhere through the library. The Brooklyn Public Library offers free membership to anyone in the U.S. aged 13 to 21 who wants to check out and read books digitally in response to the nationwide wave of book censorship and restrictions.
Several titles in this display of books in at the Central Library in New York city are on Missouri's banned books list. The N.Y. library allows young people anywhere to read digital versions of the books.
Ted Shaffrey/AP
Curriculum More Teachers Say Their Curriculum Aligns to Standards. But It Still Falls Short
About one in four teachers said they spent $300 or more of their own money on instructional materials last school year.
3 min read
An open book with scattered letters, graphs, math symbols and shapes floating on a dark blue background.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Curriculum Q&A Why Media Literacy Programs Need to Put a Spotlight on 'Stealth Advertising'
As advertising evolves, digital literacy education must change with it.
3 min read
Illustration of numerous computer windows overlapping with creepy eyeballs inside the close, open, and minimize circles within the various window screens.
Daniel Hertzberg for Education Week