Should civic education go beyond the Constitution and branches of government to include community-level activism and service learning? Are there resources to support teachers and school with such programs?

There are a lot of questions (and resources!) that surround civics education in today’s schools, but one thing is for sure – because of its narrow focus on reading and math scores, NCLB has pushed aside civics education. Civics education is now on the same playing field as the arts, music, and PE – in the “nice to have” category of today’s school curriculum.

Today we joined our friends at ExpandED Schools for a twitter chat around civics education. Not surprisingly, the conversation focused on the role of civics education to go beyond the constitution and the branches of government to include community-level activism and service learning for our students.

One theme was clear during the chat – our world is changing and we must find a way for civics education to prepare our children not only to succeed academically, but also to become engaged citizens and future leaders. To do this, students must be involved in discussions of current events, encouraged to debate diverse topics, and taught skills to deliberate, listen, and think critically. The second important layer is providing opportunities for students to go out into the community to see how policy actually plays out on the ground in the world around them.

But as the system stands now, schools tend to focus on that which they’re held accountable, which leaves very little time for in-depth civics education. It was great to see so many tweeters engaged in #civicsed. I hope that in the future more people will realize the power expanded learning time has in creating environments that move civics (as well as art, music, and PE) to the “must have” category and not the “not haves.”

Check out TASC’s ExpandED Blog for more on today’s Twitter chat (including resources for service learning programs) here.