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September 21, 2007

civic skills/workplace skills

America's Promise has identified five supports that every child needs to develop successfully: caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education, and opportunities to help others. The America's Promise research team frequently releases interesting studies showing the positive consequences of having these five supports and the unequal degree to which we provide them.

The latest published report (pdf), entitled "workforce readiness," identifies several skills that are essential for success in the workplace: decision-making, teamwork and leadership, communication, working with diverse people, computer skills, and money management. The Alliance's survey data show that most students report few opportunities to develop any of these skills; and outcomes (as assessed by the kids themselves) are unequal. For example, "fewer than half (46%) of the youth surveyed believe that they communicate well with others. African American youth were nearly twice as likely to report poor communication skills as white youth."

For those of us who want schools to develop civic skills, these data provide an opening. Surveys cited by the Alliance show that business employers want workers who can communicate, collaborate, and make decisions in diverse groups. If we can harness that demand to persuade schools to teach such "soft" skills, we should be able to prepare students better for active citizenship. That will require more team projects in schools and less narrow preparation for paper-and-pencil tests.

September 21, 2007 8:18 AM | category: advocating civic education | Comments


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