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Author archive for admin

  • Time for a New GI Bill

    By Sheila Kennedy on September 18, 2014
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    I’ve been thinking. There are a number of policy changes that would make a big difference in the lives of poor Americans. There is no doubt in my mind that we need to raise the minimum wage. We also need stronger banking regulations, better and lower-cost day care availability, and improved public education in our poorer neighborhoods, just for starters. These […]
  • Commit to the Constitution

    By Steve Sanders on September 17, 2014
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    When Americans debate important legal questions involving the Constitution – guns, gay marriage, police surveillance, affirmative action, to name just a few – our founding document often ends up seeming like a Rorschach blot or a cloud in the sky: everyone sees something different in it. A conservative activist who identifies with the tea party likely will have a different […]
  • Obama breaks his promise to be open with the public

    By Jeffrey M. McCall on September 11, 2014
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    The U.S. system of government relies on citizens having full access to information that can be used in self-governance. Journalists and other First Amendment advocates were enthused when the Obama administration came into office with convincing statements about transparency and open government. President Obama himself has claimed, “This is the most transparent administration in history,” and his press secretaries have […]
  • Presidential powers are widely misunderstood

    By David Adler on September 10, 2014
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    The humanitarian crisis that began brewing last week in Iraq, with the news that the lives of some 40,000 religious minorities were gravely threatened by the self-pronounced Islamic State, generated calls from politicians and members of the media for a quick, resolute military response from President Barack Obama. The demands were predictable. Whenever challenges arise, Americans of every stripe and […]
  • In the Land of the Blind…..

    By Sheila Kennedy on September 3, 2014
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    Sunday’s New York Times had a story about efforts to register voters in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the tragic shooting of Michael Brown. This paragraph absolutely floored me: “A lot of people just didn’t realize that the people who impact their lives every day are directly elected.” Said Shiron Hagens, 41, of St. Louis, who is not part of […]
  • Ferguson

    By Sheila Kennedy on August 21, 2014
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    I haven’t blogged about the depressing situation in Ferguson, Missouri, for a number of reasons: first of all, unlike left- and rightwing partisans, all of whom are convinced they know exactly what happened, I’m not in possession of all the facts. So what do I know? I know that everyone in a position of authority, including the police chief, the Mayor and […]
  • How each state teaches Civics

    By Admin on August 15, 2014
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    If you haven’t seen the new report out from CIRCLE breaking down each state on how it approaches Civics, you should. The latest changes in Civics Standards around the country are also broken down in the latest round research. American Democracy Project is also excited as it previewed the findings: Recently, CIRCLE conducted case studies of new or revised civic […]
  • The Rule of Law Applies to All

    By Matt Impink on August 14, 2014
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    The events in Ferguson, MO have gotten out of control in the aftermath of the tragic shooting death of teenager Michael Brown at the hands of a local police officer. Last night while President Obama and Hillary Clinton partied in Martha’s Vineyard, the police in Ferguson wielded automatic weapons for crowd control on the fifth consecutive night of protests. Matthew […]
  • Israel, Palestine and the American Public

    By Matt Impink on July 31, 2014
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    Let’s face it. The last two weeks have been awful as we have seen one international crisis after another. The crisis at the US-Mexico border has been spurred on by violence and corruption in desperately poor Central American nations. The massacre of 298 innocent people in the despicable downing of a civilian airplane in Eastern Ukraine by Russian-backed separatists. However, […]
  • Conecting the Dots: National Conference 2014

    By Sheila Kennedy and Beth Cate on July 23, 2014
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    Only 36 percent of Americans can name the three branches of government. Only 21 percent of high school seniors can list two privileges that United States citizens have that noncitizens don’t. Fewer than a quarter of the nation’s 12th graders are proficient in civics. Only one-fifth to one-third of American adults understand basic scientific concepts like the importance of formulating […]
  • The Government Don’t Do Nothin’ for Me

    By Donald Knebel on July 22, 2014
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    Last week, I attended the reunion of my graduating class from a rural high school in northwest Indiana. Nearly half the 30 members of the class of 1964 attended, many having lived most of the intervening years within a few miles of the long abandoned school. I spent much of the afternoon talking to my classmates about what they have […]
  • ‘Scuse me, while I duck the sky…

    By Beth Cate on July 18, 2014
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    Don Knebel wrote last week that the sky was not falling by virtue of the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby ruling. Not all at once, certainly, but some pieces have been raining down over the last couple of weeks that suggest we might want to keep our helmets handy. Don concluded, and I agree, that “[t]he key to the [Hobby […]
  • Ignoring Civics at DOE

    By Sheila Kennedy on July 16, 2014
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    The U.S. Department of Education has published draft priorities for discretionary grant programs for next year and has invited public comment. The current draft includes 15 priorities–none of which is civic education. To read the department’s priorities you can go here and scroll down the page. On the upper-right-hand corner of the page you will see the words “Comment Now.” I hope […]
  • Science in Policymaking

    By Admin on July 14, 2014
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    What is the role of science policy making? What scientific misconceptions contribute to bad public policy? Why are facts not always persuasive? Richard Dawkins Foundation’s Executive Director, Robyn Blumner, moderates this panel discussion with Angela Ledford Anderson, director of the UCS Climate and Energy Program, Erin Heath, Associate Director of the AAAS Office of Government Relations, and Mercedes Gore from […]
  • The Hobby Lobby Decision: The Sky is Not (Yet) Falling

    By Donald Knebel on July 7, 2014
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    On June 30, 2014, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. By a vote of 5 to 4, the Court held that regulations issued under the Affordable Care Act cannot require a for-profit corporation to provide health insurance covering contraceptives violating the religious beliefs of the corporation’s owners. The response has been […]
  • The Journal of Civic Literacy Inaugural Issue

    By Sheila Kennedy on July 1, 2014
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    We are excited to announce the publication our first issue of the Journal of Civic Literacy (JCL) today July 1, 2014. This online journal publishes research into the causes and consequences of Americans’ low levels of civic knowledge, the role of public education, the comparative efficacy of available curricula and programs (what is working? why and how?), the connections between […]
  • Emails, Texting, Polarization

    By John Guy on June 23, 2014
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    A decision-making experience by a local trade association board has caused me to wonder whether electronic written communication is contributing to polarization and related phenomenon such as a decline in creative governing. Until a magical turning point, probably twenty years ago, members of governing boards and legislatures communicated with each other by telephone. In most cases, these conversations were cordial, […]
  • Are Republicans the Christian Nationalist Party?

    By Donald Knebel on June 14, 2014
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    When some American reporters described the recent election in India as a victory for the Hindu Nationalist Party, an Indian comic tweeted that Indian reporters should begin referring to the Republican Party as the “Christian Nationalist Party.” The tweet was sarcastic, but nonetheless close to home. As the primary defeat of Virginia Representative Eric Cantor emphasizes, the current incarnation of […]
  • Be Careful What You Wish For

    By Sheila Kennedy on June 9, 2014
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    Periodically, lawmakers who are frustrated by their inability to change government policies of which they disapprove will propose a shortcut: they’ll reform the system itself, by convening a Constitutional Convention. Fortunately, these efforts rarely succeed. Why do I say “fortunately”? Because—like poison gas—system change is only a great weapon until the wind shifts. When activists clamor for wholesale changes or […]
  • Accountability

    By John Guy on June 7, 2014
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    Are you “accountable?”  I doubt it.  Me?   Probably not.  Yet others should be accountable.  Right? “Accountable” appears in letters to the editor, newspaper columns and opinions, and coffee pot conversations.  What does it mean?   Here is one definition:  “adjective, (pertaining to a person, organization, or institution) required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible.” In public discourse about civic […]