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ERIC Number: ED516497
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Sep
Pages: 61
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
High Schools, Civics, and Citizenship: What Social Studies Teachers Think and Do
Farkas, Steve; Duffett, Ann M.
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Notwithstanding all the studies and data on schooling today, one has to go back more than a decade--to the 1998 Public Agenda study "A Lot to Be Thankful For"--for a serious attempt to examine what parents think public schools should teach children about citizenship. The annual Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup poll on schooling has not asked questions about citizenship since 2000. When these questions were last addressed, respondents chose "prepar[ing] people to become responsible citizens" as the least important purpose of schooling--behind such goals as "enhanc[ing] people's happiness and enrich[ing] their lives" and "dispel[ling] inequities in education among certain schools and certain groups." Given this paucity of research, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Program on American Citizenship sought to investigate what schools are teaching today about citizenship. To aid the agency in this effort, it turned to the teachers most directly charged with educating and shaping America's young citizens--high school history and social studies teachers. And when it comes to finding out what teachers think, there may be no better research team in America than the pollsters/analysts Steve Farkas and Ann Duffett. This report is based on the views, thoughts, and frontline observations of the nation's high school history and social studies teachers. Farkas and Duffett surveyed more than one thousand public and private school teachers, and they conducted three focus groups with teachers in various communities across the country. What they found proved to be both surprising and predictable, somewhat reassuring but also unsettling. In general, the report points to the fact that while teachers' priorities and values largely reflect those of the general public, their efforts to convey that knowledge to students are falling short of their own expectations. This lack of confidence would certainly appear justified, if the poor results of the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress are any guide. In marked contrast to their private counterparts, public school teachers believe that social studies is losing ground to other subject areas and that civics in particular is being neglected by their schools. And, finally, teachers appear uncertain about what the precise content of a proper civic education should be--emphasizing notions of tolerance and rights, while giving less attention to history, facts, and key constitutional concepts such as the separation of powers. Two appendices are included. (Contains 6 tables, 5 figures and 18 notes.) [The forward to this report was written by Frederick M. Hess, Gary J. Schmitt, Cheryl Miller, and Jenna M. Schuette.]
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. 1150 Seventeenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-862-5800; Fax: 202-862-7177; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Assessment of Educational Progress