In Aftermath of Election, New Study Finds Civics Education Falls Far Short

Research at UCLA & UC Riverside details lack of civic learning opportunities in California.

In the wake of a national election that signaled heightened interest in politics as well as deep fissures that threaten the very basis of our democracy, a new study by researchers at UC Riverside and UCLA raises serious concerns about an alarming degree of inattention to the democratic mission of schools and a general lack of support for civic learning across California. 

The study, “Reclaiming the Democratic Purpose of California’s Public Schools”, finds that civic and democratic goals are marginal to the mission statements of school districts and that civics and democracy are not part of Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) for the vast majority of school districts in California. There is also little in the way of staffing and infrastructure that supports civic learning. The researchers call on education, community and policy leaders to make democratic education and civic learning a renewed priority for public education in the state.

“As John Dewey put it, ‘Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife,’” said UCLA Education Professor John Rogers. “Throughout American history, public schools have been charged with preparing youth for participation in our democracy. But as recent events and our research make all too clear, when it comes to fulfilling the democratic purposes of schooling, we are falling far short.” 

The study is a project of Leveraging Equity and Access in Democratic Education (LEADE), a joint initiative of UCLA and UC Riverside researchers working to ensure students have access to high quality civic learning opportunities. You can read the full story and access the report on the Sudikoff Public Forum website.