Danforth backs civic education

A good many US school districts don't teach democracy; they don't even include discussions about democracy in history or social studies classes. And without administrative as well as community backing for a substantial curriculum change, it seems that the status quo will hold.

This is the view held by one who should know. The St. Louis-based Danforth Foundation's vice-president, Geraldine Bagby, has been overseeing the foundation's involvement with civic-education projects for a decade. She states:

''Unless the local boards of education, as led by the superintendent, are committed, nothing much will happen.

''I think boards should be skeptical,'' she adds. But she also emphasizes that their endorsement is key to acceptance.

She is understandably proud of programs her foundation has been able to foster in supportive communities. This year's grant recipients have included the school districts of Bakersfield, Calif.; Tacoma, Wash.; and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Funds are used to support release time for teachers to learn or to train other teachers, for teacher stipends, materials, and so forth. Projects include curriculum, in-service training, school governance, and community-based citizenship-learning experiences for students (the latter is Tacoma's program).

''The best investment is people, because of the ripple effect . . . of their (knowledge), energy, and enthusiasm on other teachers, students, and community leaders,'' Dr. Bagby says.

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