Teaching America: The Case for Civic Education

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9781607098409: Teaching America: The Case for Civic Education
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In Teaching America, more than 20 leading thinkers sound the alarm over a crisis in citizenship—and lay out a powerful agenda for reform. The book’s unprecedented roster of authors includes Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Senator Jon Kyl, Senator Bob Graham, Secretary Rod Paige, Alan Dershowitz, Juan Williams, Glenn Reynolds, Michael Kazin, Frederick Hess, Andrew Rotherham, Mike Feinberg, Seth Andrew, Mark Bauerlein and more.

Their message: To remain America, our country has to give its kids a civic identity, an understanding of our constitutional system, and some appreciation of the amazing achievements of American self-government. But we are failing. Young Americans know little about the Bill of Rights, the democratic process, or the civil rights movement. Three of every four high school seniors aren’t proficient in civics, nine of ten can’t cut it in U.S. history, and the problem is only aggravated by universities' disregard for civic education. Such civic illiteracy weakens our common culture, disenfranchises would-be voters, and helps poison our politics.

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About the Author:

David Feith is an assistant editorial features editor at The Wall Street Journal and directs the Civic Education Initiative.

Review:

The American experiment in self-governance relies on a citizenry conversant in American history and government process. Feith (assistant editorial features editor, Wall Street Journal) and his knowledgeable group of contributors-public officials, law and education scholars, and educators-sound the alarm with impressive clarity about the current state of American civic literacy. Their case is straightforward and without divisive rhetoric. The included essays explore the historical place of civic literacy within the American education system, look at current and past government programs intended to effect civic literacy, present snapshots of existing civic-education programs in K-12 and higher education, and consider options for the future. Verdict A well-documented case for civic-education reform articulated by policymakers, lawyers, educators, and academics who share their expertise and involvement with government programs and relevant curricula. This collection is distinctive for its breadth of coverage and the first-hand expertise and knowledge of its contributors. Highly recommended for students in education and teacher preparation. (Library Journal 2011-10-04)

David Feith, an assistant editorial features editor at the Wall Street Journal and twice recipient of the Robert L. Bartley Fellow at the Wall Street Journal, has brought together an esteemed group of seminal thinkers. These men and women substantially hold to the tenet that America has to give its children a sense of civic identity along with a fundamental understanding of our American constitutional system. The essays collected by Feith address several significant issues, including the democratic purpose of education, assimilation, leadership, civil liberties in the digital age, and indoctrination—all of which are of major concern. The mixture presents a whirlwind—no, a cyclonic vortex—of exemplary thought by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Juan Williams, Alan M. Dershowitz, Senators Jon Kyl and Bob Graham, Admiral Mike Ratliff, and Peter Levine—22 in all. Levine’s comment in his “Letter to President Obama” should make everyone stop and take notice....But Glenn Harlan Reynolds’s closing statement in the preceding essay, “Education vs. Indoctrination” is the real clincher. (New York Journal of Books)

The past is critical to the future—a commonplace observation that would not be notable if the findings in this important book had turned out differently. As it is, Teaching America chronicles the nation’s civics deficit, arguing eloquently and sensibly for a renewed commitment to education about public life... This book and this project are excellent places to begin.

(Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian)

We need to heed the voices in this essential book. If America is going to continue to be a powerful force for good in the world, we must repair our public education system and cultivate citizens that have the tools and ideals necessary to ensure the success of our great experiment in democracy. Teaching America tells us how.

(Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO, Harlem Children's Zone)

The greatest threat to the future of American democracy is our failure to educate every child. In Newark and cities across this country, the problems described in Teaching America are plain to see: inadequate civic education has left many students on the margins of our democracy, unable to benefit from or contribute to its wealth and growth. Fortunately, Teaching America offers a vital blueprint for how public leaders, educators, and parents can empower our students, help them realize their genius, and strengthen our nation. (Cory Booker, mayor of Newark)

It's hard to think of a more important subject than the one this book tackles with such clarity, power, and creativity: how to preserve American history so that all we've been, and all we mean to be, will continue to hold us together as a nation. A generation ago, President Reagan warned of 'an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit.' This book both reflects and adds fresh documentation to that warning. And its great contribution is that it offers some bracing suggestions on what to do about it. (Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal columnist and former speechwriter for President Reagan)

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