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

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
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for
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
Trauma-Informed Practices & the Construction of the Deep Reading Brain
Join Ryan Lee-James, Ph.D. CCC-SLP, director of the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, with Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD., Vital Village Community Engagement Network; Neena McConnico, Ph.D, LMHC, Child Witness to Violence Project; and Sondra
Content provided by Rollins Center

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 He Taught About White Privilege and Got Fired. Now He's Fighting to Get His Job Back
Matthew Hawn is an early casualty in this year's fight over how teachers can discuss with students America's struggle with racism.
13 min read
Social studies teacher Matthew Hawn is accused of insubordination and repeated unprofessional conduct for sharing Kyla Jenèe Lacey's, 'White Privilege', poem with his Contemporary Issues class. Hawn sits on his couch inside his home on August 17, 2021.
Matthew Hawn is accused of insubordination and repeated unprofessional conduct for lessons and materials he used to teach about racism and white privilege in his Contemporary Issues class at Sullivan Central High School in Blountville, Tenn.<br/>
Caitlin Penna for Education Week
Curriculum What's the Best Way to Address Unfinished Learning? It's Not Remediation, Study Says
A new study suggests acceleration may be a promising strategy for addressing unfinished learning in math after a pandemic year.
5 min read
Female high school student running on the stairs leads to an opportunity to success
CreativaImages/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Curriculum School Halts Use of Fictional Book in Which Officer Kills a Black Child
Fifth graders in at least one Broward County school were assigned to read a book that critics say casts police officers as racist liars.
Rafael Olmeda, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
5 min read
Broward County School Board member Lori Alhadeff listens during a meeting of the Broward County School Board, Tuesday, March 5, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Broward County School Board member Lori Alhadeff listens during a meeting of the Broward County School Board in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Alhadeff told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that she does not feel like the book "Ghost Boys" is appropriate for 5th graders.
Lynne Sladky/AP
Curriculum Opinion Introducing Primary Sources to Students
Five educators share strategies for introducing primary sources to students, including English-language learners.
12 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty