In 2006, students did marginally better in history and civics on the tests administered as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Here are the history and civics results, which are both rather unimpressive, to say the least. Consider, for example, this sequence of results in American history, in which no more than 2% of the students ever score at the advanced level and, by 12th grade, more than half score below basic. The results in civics are a little less disheartening, but, still, almost 30% or more of the students fall below basic.
Commentators in the NYT article want to talk about the emphasis in NCLB on reading and math. I’d love to have a conversation about the ability of public schools, relative to private and parental alternatives, to fulfill the civic mission that is offered as one of the principal arguments against school choice and vouchers.
Another conversation worth having would be based on the capacity of the schools to serve that civic mission for our legal, illegal, and legalized immigrant populations. Let’s talk about putting a civic education trigger in any "comprehensive" immigration reform.