David Hoppe's commentary (Hoppe, "A better way of learning" Oct. 14-21) about Indy's Reggio Emilia schools is quite timely. With the emphasis of NCLB and Race to the Top on academic performance, it is good to hear education associated with democracy. We can't forget our public schools also have a civic mission. Literacy and numeracy are each fundamental for participation in our community, but so is the knowledge and capacity of citizens to make sense of their democratic society. Since the democratic way of life is built upon opportunities to learn what it is about and practice how it might be led, civic literacy is the capacity of students to experience democracy inside and outside of their public school. Civic literacy embodies the knowledge, skills, and decision-making activities students need to participate and initiate progress in their classroom, community, and the greater world. Consequently, we must remove the contradictions in our culture that embrace democratic ends for its schools, but resists the actual practice in schools of the democratic means from which the ends cannot be separated. This is what our democracy requires of its schools.
What's relevant here is now due to the section of Recommendation #44 of the Indiana Commission on Disproportionality in Youth Services regarding student participation in school-related decision-making, more children and youth in our state can experience the "new sense if citizenship" envisioned by Reggio Emilia developer Lois Malaguzzi. Several individuals and organizations are working to make Rec. #44 state education policy. Those interested, please contact me.
John Harris Loflin
Democratic Education Consortium