2008 Civic Health Index: Sustaining civic engagement beyond Election Day

The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) today released their 2008 civic report called “America’s Civic Health Index: Beyond the Vote”. [True confessions: the Saguaro Seminar was a co-advisor to NCoC on the report, together with CIRCLE.]

The report focuses on the encouraging uptick in youth civic engagement and strategies for sustaining this engagement beyond Election Day. One of the cautionary findings of the report is that many Americans did not expect their political engagement to continue after Election Day.  For example, only 14% were confident they would try to change local policies regarding schools, work or neighborhoods.

That said, the report does note 4 policies on which there is broad bipartisan support:

  1. Giving young people the opportunity to earn tuition money through a year of service (87% support)
  2. Holding a national deliberation among citizens on some issue and requiring Congress to respond to what the citizen-deliberators say (80% support)
  3. Requiring service learning in schools (service learning uses community service projects to teach underlying academic skills; so for example a project to measure the pollution of a local streambed could also teach young people about scientific measurement).  76% of respondents support this.
  4. Strengthening civic education through new tests in this subject (67% support).

The report also highlights high levels of political participation thus far in the 2008 election and the many varied forms that this political participation is taking.

NCoC is featuring a keynote address by Sandra Day O’Connor who recently called for beefing up civics curricula and a panel this afternoon on sustaining civic engagement, featuring people like “Alan Khazei, Founder and CEO of Be the Change, Barb Quaintance VP of AARP, former Congressman Bob Edgar, CEO of Common Cause, Ian Rowe, Vice President at MTV, and Maya Enista, CEO of Mobilize.org. Political consultant Joe Trippi will moderate a discussion on the Internet community and community between Founding President of Facebook, Sean Parker and William Galston, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.”

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