A Civic Education Crisis

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History & Political Science


This essay opens with a review of the literature on declining civic engagement as it has grown out of Putnam’s social capital arguments, on the one hand, and Delli Carpini and Keeter’s analysis of poor civic literacy in the United States, on the other. This review shows there is a growing scholarly consensus America faces a civic education crisis. The growing concern over civics in America has increasingly brought formalized civic education (FCE) at the primary, secondary and higher education levels under scrutiny. While many scholars, politicians, and the media increasingly point the finger at public education, the country lacks adequate knowledge of the macro state of civic education practices in the 50 states to assess its role in the civics crisis. Such knowledge is essential to a meaningful discussion of civic education reform so this paper investigates the current minimal standards for civic education curriculums. After examining the mandated civic curricular requirements at the secondary and higher education levels for the 50 states, it is concluded America does generally take a minimalist approach to formalized civic education leaving the civic education of U.S. citizens as a whole too much to informal socialization processes and chance.

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Midsouth Political Science Review


Arkansas Political Science Association