Educating for Democratic Citizenship

There is a renewed sense of urgency around civic education in the U.S., given recent assaults on universal suffrage, on free media, on workers’ rights, on an independent judiciary, and most recently on the U.S. Capitol. There is also agreement that the goals of civic education should be to nurture citizens who are well-informed and productively engaged in their communities and with the broader society. As a result, there is an emerging consensus that our civic education system needs to be reimagined to better serve and empower young people, especially those experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage, prejudice, and systemic injustice.

In response to these challenges, the Albert Shanker Institute launched its Educating for Democratic Citizenship Program which features "Action Civics" lessons and related materials developed by a group of accomplished, experienced educators which we hope will improve teaching and learning of American History, Government, and Civics for teachers and students.  This Action Civics approach supports students’ learning about the political process as they identify, research, and take informed action on issues that are important to them. These meaningful learning experiences help young people gain knowledge, develop skills, and grow their motivation for lifelong civic participation. These lessons can be found on a dedicated section of ShareMyLesson.

As part of this program, the Shanker Institute, in partnership with Cornell University’s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs, held a virtual conference which showcased the Action Civics approach. The conference featured several plenary sessions by prominent speakers, such as Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), former Congressmen Steve Israel (D-NY) and Christopher Shays (R-CT), AFT Secretary Treasurer Fedrick Ingram and AFT President Randi Weingarten, followed by a series of breakout sessions led by invited experts and our talented ASI civics fellows who offered more of a practitioners’ approach to teaching civics and democracy. Participants will be eligible for professional development recertification credit for these on-demand webinars.