While teaching at an all-Black middle school in Atlanta, Levinson realized that her students’ individual self-improvement would not necessarily enable them to overcome their historical marginalization. In order to overcome their civic empowerment gap, students must learn how to reshape power relationships through public political and civic action.
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No Citizen Left Behind

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While teaching at an all-Black middle school in Atlanta, Levinson realized that her students’ individual self-improvement would not necessarily enable them to overcome their historical marginalization. In order to overcome their civic empowerment gap, students must learn how to reshape power relationships through public political and civic action.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Robert D. Putnam
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.
Deborah Meier
Read No Citizen Left Behind by Meira Levinson--a forthright defense of schools as institutions for teaching about democracy and justice.
Peter Levine
A landmark book that should influence teachers of all subjects in American schools while providing an important model for scholars.
Danielle S. Allen
A must-read for anyone who cares to see young people from all backgrounds grow into self-confident and efficacious citizens.
Education Next - Nathan Glazer
This is Dewey updated...This is a strong book. The ideas that activate it are effectively presented, the detail of real school life...vividly brought to life.
Education Week blog

Read No Citizen Left Behind by Meira Levinson—a forthright defense of schools as institutions for teaching about democracy and justice.
— Deborah Meier

Library Journal
It began with a question related to late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain during a quiz bowl competition. Then a teacher at an all-black Atlanta middle school, Levinson (education, Harvard Univ.; The Demands of Liberal Education) was leading a team of predominantly low-income students against a team from one of the wealthiest schools in the district. Although Levinson's kids were intelligent, they lacked the cultural knowledge needed to identify Cobain. For Levinson, it was an "aha" moment, as she realized there were thousands of students like hers across the country—youth who receive a different kind of education and live with a certain set of cultural markers because of race and economics. 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. VERDICT 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, Hutchinson P.L., KS
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Product Details

Meet the Author

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.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 4: “Let Us Now Praise…?” Rethinking Heroes and Role Models in an Egalitarian Age

It is July 2009, and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is in the process of drafting new social studies curriculum standards to guide teaching, testing, and textbook selection for the next decade. Although the standards themselves are being written by a team of educators and community members, the Texas State Board of Education has appointed an additional six “experts” to guide the writing team. These experts include four university professors, as well as two founders and presidents of Christian organizations. Each “expert” has been asked to start by reviewing the current Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum in social studies, which was written in the 1990s. In their reviews, the two heads of Christian organizations take an emphatic stand on many of the historical figures included and excluded from the curriculum. Anne Hutchinson, Cesar Chavez, and Thurgood Marshall, among others, come under challenge.

Peter Marshall, founder and president of Peter Marshall Ministries in Massachusetts, explains that “Anne Hutchinson does not belong in the company of” such “significant colonial leaders” as William Penn, John Smith, or Roger Williams. “She was certainly not a significant colonial leader, and didn’t accomplish anything except getting herself exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for making trouble.” Similarly, he challenges the curriculum standard asking students to “‘Identify significant individuals such as Cesar Chavez and Benjamin Franklin who modeled active participation in the democratic process.’ To have Cesar Chavez listed next to Ben Franklin is ludicrous,” Marshall explains. “Chavez is hardly the kind of role model that ought to be held up to our children as someone worthy of emulation.” In his curriculum review, Marshall also opposes the inclusion of Thurgood Marshall as not a “strong enough example” of someone who has “impacted American history.” Brown v. Board of Education, argued and won by Thurgood Marshall in front of the U.S. Supreme Court he would later join as an associate justice, seems not to count as historically significant in Peter Marshall’s worldview.

David Barton, founder and president of WallBuilders, an organization dedicated to “Presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes with an emphasis on our moral, religious, and constitutional heritage,” concurs with Marshall’s assessment of both Hutchinson and Chavez. In his written assessment under the section heading “Heroes of History,” Barton acknowledges that Hutchinson, who co-founded Rhode Island and argued on behalf of women’s equality and against Native American slavery, is a “historic figure.” But he also challenges her status as a “significant colonial leader.” He is more directly incensed about Chavez’ inclusion: “Cesar Chavez may be a choice representing diversity but he certainly lacks the stature, impact, and overall contributions of so many others; and his open affiliation with Saul Alinsky’s movements certainly makes dubious that he is a praiseworthy to be heralded to students as someone ‘who modeled active participation in the democratic process.’” Barton is clearly challenging the democratic character of Chavez’ union organizing via the United Farm Workers and of Rules for Radicals author Saul Alinsky’s community organizing.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Kurt Cobain versus Master P 1

1 The Civic Empowerment Gap 23

2 "At School I Talk Straight": Race Talk and Civic Empowerment 60

3 "You Have the Right to Struggle": Constructing Historical Counternarrative 99

4 Rethinking Heroes and Role Models 138

5 How to Soar in a World You've Never Seen: Making Citizenship Visible in Schools 167

6 The Case for Action Civics 210

7 Democracy, Accountability, and Education 250

Epilogue: Standing Up, Talking Back 289

Notes 299

References 327

Acknowledgments 371

Index 377

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