Civic Blog

Welcome to the Civic Blog and what we hope will become an ongoing discussion between our bloggers and readers. Visit often, share your perspectives, experiences and suggestions, and help us build a “civic” community. We seek a national conversation on a broad range of topics including education, science, politics and religion. We are always looking for guest bloggers. Contact us at if you’d like to post your thoughts.

  • Civic Literacy and our 2016 Election Choices

    By Sheila Kennedy on April 22, 2016 in Civic Blog

    As Indiana’s primary approaches, it’s time to look at the 2016 election landscape as objectively as possible. None of us is truly objective, of course. I look at the “still standing” Presidential candidates from the perspective of someone who teaches public administration, supports civil liberties, and has had a fair amount of first-hand political experience. I’m also old enough to

  • Civic Education in the Age of Trump

      Little hands. A bad tan. And blood coming from wherever. If you’re put off by the crude tone of politics in the Age of Trump, you’re not alone. According to a recent poll by Weber Shandwick, Powell Tate, and KRC Research, 70 percent of Americans think that political incivility has reached “crisis” levels. The poll also found that Americans avoid discussing

  • May Your Tribe Decrease

    By Sheila Kennedy on April 8, 2016 in Civic Blog

    This post was originally published on the blog,  on April 23, 2015 and is republished here with the permission of the author: In a recent column, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post reported on a social science study that came to some surprising (and depressing) conclusions: Up until the mid-1980s, the typical American held the view that partisans on the other

  • Flavors of Freedom

    By Sheila Kennedy on April 1, 2016 in Civic Blog

    There is a book review in the latest issue of the Washington Monthly of “No Freedom Without Regulation: The Hidden Lesson of the Subprime Crisis.”  It was written by a Professor Singer of Harvard Law School, and in it, he considers a type of freedom that gets short shrift from the various special interests who are constantly insisting that any and all

  • “Strict Constructionists” and the Supreme Court Vacancy

    By Sheila Kennedy on March 25, 2016 in Civic Blog

    I’ve posted previously about the absolutely stunning refusal of the Senate GOP leadership to do its job and hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee for the vacant Supreme Court seat. I know I’m being repetitive, but I can’t stop thinking about the degree to which that intransigence symbolizes an ominous breakdown of governance in this country. It isn’t that we

  • Transparency

    By John Guy on March 11, 2016 in Civic Blog

    To accomplish, or to openly process? Academics, such as those in the Indiana University Center for Civic Literacy, argue that open, transparent and thoroughly debated process is as important as result, usually referring to planning and construction of a physical facility.  Here is a quote from The Center: “The way in which you achieve a goal is often just as

  • A Dangerous Road

    By Sheila Kennedy on March 4, 2016 in Civic Blog

    Yesterday, I was supposed to speak at an event sponsored by Organizing for America, focused on the battle over Antonin Scalia’s replacement on the Supreme Court. Instead, of course, I was in the hospital. Since I hate to let a speech go to waste, here are the remarks I had planned to make. ________________________ The refusal by Senate Republicans to

  • A Civil Life

    By John Guy on February 26, 2016 in Civic Blog

    Is Congress failing to keep the peace? In a peaceful society, leaders’ discourse is respectful both of individuals and of institutions.  Peace is engendered when disagreement is expressed with empathy and understanding, with respect for the position, assigned function and opinion of others.  If respect is missing at the top, is not the bottom in danger? In February, leaders of

  • What a divided America actually hears when Obama speaks

    As President Obama spoke of the country’s deepening sense of alienation and anger last month, a teacher in Michigan listened, her eyes fixed on the stone-faced Republicans in the House chamber who in her view represented the problem. “Let’s get over the party lines and work together!” she tweeted during the president’s State of the Union address. In Maryland, a

  • TV Debates Don’t Help Political Dialogue

    By Jeffery M. McCall on February 12, 2016 in Civic Blog

    Seven Republican and four Democrat presidential primary “debates” were held in advance of the Iowa caucuses, and the clear winner is … big television’s bank account. Nothing happened on the debate stages that changed the nation’s political trajectory. The sponsoring television channels, however, had the opportunity to promote their news personalities, boost ratings with political spectacles and haul in big

  • Allow Me To Repeat Myself

    By Sheila Kennedy on February 5, 2016 in Civic Blog

    File this one under “here we go again.” Common Cause, the Brennan Center and other nonpartisan organizations are warning about the dangers of an effort to call a Constitutional Convention, purportedly to consider a “balanced budget amendment” to the U.S. Constitution. A balanced budget amendment is a truly bad idea but a Constitutional Convention is an even worse idea, as constitutional interpreters as different as Harvard’s

  • The Myth

    By John Guy on January 29, 2016 in Civic Blog

    A few years ago, during The State of The State Address, Governor Daniels looked to the gallery, then introduced the best teacher he ever had, his “favorite teacher.” This fine person was there to represent all teachers, or, perhaps implicitly, to compliment an excellent, effective teacher.  Unfortunately, maybe she isn’t. This reminded me of David, my high school algebra, geometry

  • Secret Government

    By Sheila Kennedy on January 22, 2016 in Civic Blog

    A few weeks ago, the Boston Globe ran an article that should be required reading for all of the activists–left and right–proposing deceptively simple”fixes” for what ails government. The article began by noting candidate Obama’s promises to reign in the NSA, close Guantanamo, and roll back portions of the Patriot Act. But six years into his administration, the Obama version of national security

  • We’re the Threat We’ve Been Waiting For

    “There are no existential threats facing” the United States.” – President Obama, in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer Oh but I can think of a few. Lawlessness. Complacency. Authoritarianism. An erosion in morals and values. Lack of knowledge or caring about the American system of self-governance. I could go on. But note that these threats are all internal. In

  • New Resource: Voting Rights for Whom? Examining the Effects of the Voting Rights Act on Latino Political Incorporation

    New study published in the American Journal of Political Science from SPEA Faculty, Amanda Rutherford and Melissa Marschall of Rice University.From the Abstract: “This study applies insights from principal-agent models to examine whether and how the language assistance provisions of the Voting Rights Act, Sections 203 and 4(f)(4), affect Latino representation. Using panel data from 1984–2012, we estimate two-stage models

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