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No Citizen Left Behind

While teaching at an all-Black middle school in Atlanta, Meira Levinson realized that students’ individual self-improvement would not necessarily enable them to overcome their profound marginalization within American society. This is because of a civic empowerment gap that is as shameful and antidemocratic as the academic achievement gap targeted by No Child Left Behind. No Citizen Left Behind (2012, Harvard University Press) argues that students must be taught how to upend and reshape power relationships directly, through political and civic action. Drawing on political theory, empirical research, and her own on-the-ground experience, Levinson shows how de facto segregated urban schools can and must be at the center of this struggle. Recovering the civic purposes of public schools will take more than tweaking the curriculum. Levinson calls on schools to remake civic education. Schools should teach collective action, openly discuss the racialized dimensions of citizenship, and provoke students by engaging their passions against contemporary injustices. Students must also have frequent opportunities to take civic and political action, including within the school itself. To build a truly egalitarian society, we must reject myths of civic sameness and empower all young people to raise their diverse voices. Levinson’s account challenges not just educators but all who care about justice, diversity, or democracy. Meira Levinson is Associate Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, following eight years as a teacher in the Atlanta and Boston Public Schools.

Some of the book's endorsements...

Brilliant. No Citizen Left Behind is must reading for anyone concerned with the reform of civic education in America. An inspiration for both scholars and practitioners. --Robert D. Putnam, author of Bowling Alone and co-author of American Grace A very sophisticated and lively argument, backed by wonderful tales from school, for what it might mean if we really educated for democracy. An important contribution to a field dominated by clichés. --Deborah Meier, co-author of Playing for Keeps A landmark book that should influence teachers of all subjects in American schools while providing an important model for scholars. --Peter Levine, Tufts University A must-read for anyone who cares to see young people from all backgrounds grow into self-confident and efficacious citizens. --Danielle S. Allen, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton Levinson advocates restoring civic education, which gives young people insights into the workings of the American political system, to the educational curriculum on a national scale. She believes that ensuring all students receive the same civic education would strengthen our country and cause more citizens to take an active role in its government...Civic education is an area of education reform that experts have overlooked, but it could have a major impact on our country if achieved. The experiences and research Levinson shares have the potential to produce a national "aha" moment. --Terry Christner (Library Journal) Resource Link: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674065789

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