January 18, 2012
In mid-January, the United States Department of Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities released "A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy's Future" at an event at the White House. This report from the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement reminds the nation that the higher education community must make civic learning for all students a priority. Commissioned by the Department of Education, the report pushes back against the notion that the mission of higher education is being limited to workforce preparation and training while studies basic to democracy are being marginalized. The Task Force calls on educators and public leaders to advance a vision that civic learning and democratic engagement should be an expected part of every student's college education.
The report accentuates that civic learning that includes knowledge, skills, values, and the capacity to work with others can help increase the number of informed, thoughtful, and public‐minded citizens well prepared to contribute to the future of the United States. At the White House event, Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter stated, “We need graduates who are well-grounded in the values, principles, and ideals of democracy that formed our great nation—citizens who will become active participants in the lives of their communities, people who will help our country prosper socially, economically, and culturally now and for future generations.”
A Crucible Moment also includes a list of the ten indicators of anemic US civic health, a national call to action to correct these issues as well as specific campus examples that illustrate how to move from “partial transformation to pervasive civic and democratic learning and practices.”
The full report is available at: www.aacu.org/civic_learning/crucible/
Street Law’s new law-focused civics course for community colleges represents a model that is consistent with the call for change in “A Crucible Moment.” Street Law is working to share information about the new course with national organizations promoting civic learning in community colleges including The Democracy Commitment, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and Campus Compact. For more on Street Law’s new course, visit www.streetlaw.org/communitycollege.
(Reproduced with permission)