Civic Learning: Renewing Our Sense of Who We Are

“Education is more than just book knowledge. It’s about how we engage in a vibrant democracy,” Secretary Duncan said yesterday afternoon at the White House. Duncan joined Obama Administration officials and education leaders at the launch of a national conversation about the importance of advancing civic learning from grade school to graduate school.

U.S. Capitol

Image courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol

Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter noted that “it’s time to renew our sense of who we are and what we stand for.” Kanter explained that the benefits of civic learning range from “instilling civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions, and promoting civic equality, to building 21st century competencies, along with helping to improve school climate, engage students in learning, and lower the dropout rate.”

In conjunction with today’s event, ED released the report “Civic Learning and Engagement in Democracy: A Road Map and Call to Action.” The report says that while America’s democratic ideals remain a model for the world, civic knowledge and democratic participation in the U.S. are lacking. The Road Map points to a 2010 report that shows less than 30 percent of 4th, 8th, and 12th graders were proficient in civics.

The Road Map highlights nine steps that ED will take to advance civic learning and democratic engagement, including promoting public service internships and careers, leveraging federal programs and public-private partnerships, and adding civic indicators to national student surveys.

Visit to read the full set of ED’s commitment, the entire Road Map, and for additional civic learning resources.

Click here to watch the video of the forum.