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ERIC Number: ED540550
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jan
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Making Americans: UNO Charter Schools and Civic Education. Policy Brief 6
Feith, David
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
This policy brief is the third in a series of in-depth case studies exploring how top-performing charter schools have incorporated civic learning in their school curriculum and school culture. The UNO Charter School Network includes 13 schools serving some 6,500 students across Chicago. Located in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods, the network's 12 K-8 schools and one high school serve a student body that is 95 percent Hispanic. UNO fundamentally understands citizenship education as a project of assimilation and Americanization. As UNO sees it, standing for assimilation and Americanization requires standing against certain popular ideas in contemporary culture and pedagogy. With 13 schools, a staff of 450, 11 buildings, 191 instructional days a year, a charter authorizer to satisfy every five years, and several standardized tests to administer annually, UNO has much to do besides directly Americanizing its students. But in doing all that, the network tries to apply its civic principles as broadly as possible. In all grades, and especially in K-8, UNO's civics curriculum is built around the calendar--holidays, days of remembrance, and anniversaries of significant events. These include, from the beginning of the school year until the end: Labor Day, September 11th, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day, and Flag Day. In grades K-8, each of these dates is tied to a curricular "cycle" meant to guide teachers' instruction for up to five days. Guiding UNO's civic education curriculum is a civics committee that designs and helps teachers implement everything from daily lessons to larger units, field trips, mock elections, and more. UNO tells its students that upon graduation, they are expected to be able to compete in the local, national, and global marketplaces; to be civically engaged; to be intellectually curious; and to be people of integrity. These characteristics are easier named than assessed. Devising metrics of healthy citizenship, both for students and for alumni after they graduate, is one of the three near-term goals that UNO leaders have set for themselves regarding civic education. Another is creating more cohesion among the curricula that deal with civic holidays, student identity, and traditional social studies. The third is improving teacher training so that all teachers--in all grades and subjects--are equipped to "capitalize on every opportunity they have" for civic education. (Contains 43 notes.) [For related reports, see "Charter Schools as Nation Builders: Democracy Prep and Civic Education. Policy Brief 4" (ED539459) and "Counting on Character: National Heritage Academies and Civic Education. Policy Brief 5" (ED540539).]
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: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Identifiers - Location: Illinois