Amid hyper-partisanship, increasing critiques of civic education reform priorities from conservatives, and growing signs of democratic backsliding, can schools provide foundational support for democratic norms, commitments, and capacities? Drawing on a unique national survey of high school principals conducted in 2018, we examine how political context, district priorities, and principal beliefs and characteristics are related to support for civic education. We find that a school’s partisan context is unrelated to most supports for democratic education. Of note, however, support for the discussion of controversial issues is less common in conservative districts, raising important questions about why the discussion of controversial issues (a core building block of democratic societies) is less common in conservative settings. In addition, support for civic education at the school level is highest at schools led by principals who are civically active and in districts that are committed to democratic aims. At a time when school districts face highly contentious politics, these findings indicate that systemic district commitments can help strengthen our civic foundations and that principals and district leaders may be able to promote small-d democracy amid increasingly politicized school governance contexts.
, Rogers, J. S.
, Kwako, A.
Do Politics in Our Democracy Prevent Schooling for Our Democracy? Civic Education in Highly Partisan Times.
Democracy and Education,
(2), Article 3.
Available at: https://democracyeducationjournal.org/home/vol29/iss2/3