Preparing Citizens: Reviving a Lost Educational Enterprise
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We have not had democratic classrooms since the 1960s. Even then they were a rarity, a few teachers working in isolation. There was a great deal of imaginative exploration, which veered off in different directions. There was legislation such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Head Start, Upward Bound, and New Careers. All instigated and encouraged experimentation, yet these never coalesced into a broader, institutional democratic vision for education. Progressive as well as radical educators were interested in access and equity for marginalized populations but did not produce a critical democratic praxis. This dissertation project will specifically document what happens when elementary students have an opportunity to engage with democratic principles through critical understanding of the Bill of Rights. It will demonstrate how a teacher committed to social justice pedagogy interprets the demands of corporate driven reforms to enact rigorously democratic praxis that embraces students from nondominant populations as well as dominant students in the Cultural Linguistics Civics Project. The ultimate goal of the research study is to document students’ knowledge and attitudes about their rights as guaranteed in the United States Constitution.