Flunking Democracy: Schools, Courts, and Civic Participation

University of Chicago Press
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The 2016 presidential election campaign and its aftermath have underscored worrisome trends in the present state of our democracy: the extreme polarization of the electorate, the dismissal of people with opposing views, and the widespread acceptance and circulation of one-sided and factually erroneous information. Only a small proportion of those who are eligible actually vote, and a declining number of citizens actively participate in local community activities.

In Flunking Democracy, Michael A. Rebell makes the case that this is not a recent problem, but rather that for generations now, America’s schools have systematically failed to prepare students to be capable citizens. Rebell analyzes the causes of this failure, provides a detailed analysis of what we know about how to prepare students for productive citizenship, and considers examples of best practices. Rebell further argues that this civic decline is also a legal failure—a gross violation of both federal and state constitutions that can only be addressed by the courts. Flunking Democracy concludes with specific recommendations for how the courts can and should address this deficiency, and is essential reading for anyone interested in education, the law, and democratic society.
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About the author

Michael A. Rebell is the executive director of the Center for Educational Equity, professor of practice in law and educational policy at Teachers College, Columbia University, and adjunct professor of law at Columbia Law School. He is the author of many books, including Courts and Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity through the State Courts, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Apr 18, 2018
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9780226549958
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / Curricula
Law / Constitutional
Law / General
Political Science / Civics & Citizenship
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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“A detailed history of the transformation of First Amendment law” from one of the nation’s foremost civil liberties lawyers (The New York Times).
 
Are you sitting down? It turns out that everything you learned about the First Amendment is wrong. For too long, we’ve been treating small, isolated snippets of the text as infallible gospel without looking at the masterpiece of the whole. Legal luminary Burt Neuborne argues that the structure of the First Amendment as well as of the entire Bill of Rights was more intentional than most people realize, beginning with the internal freedom of conscience and working outward to freedom of expression and finally freedom of public association. This design, Neuborne argues, was not to protect discrete individual rights—such as the rights of corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections—but to guarantee that the process of democracy continues without disenfranchisement, oppression, or injustice.
 
Neuborne, who was the legal director of the ACLU and has argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court, invites us to hear the “music” within the form and content of Madison’s carefully formulated text. When we hear Madison’s music, a democratic ideal flowers in front of us, and we can see that the First Amendment gives us the tools to fight for campaign finance reform, the right to vote, equal rights in the military, the right to be full citizens, and the right to prevent corporations from riding roughshod over the weakest among us. Neuborne gives us an eloquent lesson in democracy that informs and inspires.
 
“In the dark art of lawyering, Neuborne has always been considered a white knight.” —New York
Despite its importance to the life of the nation and all its citizens, the Supreme Court remains a mystery to most Americans, its workings widely felt but rarely seen firsthand. In this book, journalists who cover the Court—acting as the eyes and ears of not just the American people, but the Constitution itself—give us a rare close look into its proceedings, the people behind them, and the complex, often fascinating ways in which justice is ultimately served. Their narratives form an intimate account of a year in the life of the Supreme Court.
The cases heard by the Surpreme Court are, first and foremost, disputes involving real people with actual stories. The accidents and twists of circumstance that have brought these people to the last resort of litigation can make for compelling drama. The contributors to this volume bring these dramatic stories to life, using them as a backdrop for the larger issues of law and social policy that constitute the Court’s business: abortion, separation of church and state, freedom of speech, the right of privacy, crime, violence, discrimination, and the death penalty. In the course of these narratives, the authors describe the personalities and jurisprudential leanings of the various Justices, explaining how the interplay of these characters and theories about the Constitution interact to influence the Court’s decisions.
Highly readable and richly informative, this book offers an unusually clear and comprehensive portrait of one of the most influential institutions in modern American life.
Acting as a counterbalance to the current unworkable law, this book proposes a more realistic way to achieve NCLB’s inspiring vision by ensuring the right to “meaningful educational opportunity” for all students. This timely volume tackles specific provisions in NCLB head-on, such as the popular, but impossible, goal of 100% student proficiency by 2014.

“At last, a book on No Child Left Behind that makes sense to school practitioners. All who care about the future of our public schools should read this book as soon as possible!”
—Thomas Sobol, Former Commissioner of Education, New York State

“Moving Every Child Ahead is an important work from two leaders in the fight to guarantee a decent education for every child. Rebell and Wolff have written a must-read for everyone concerned about education reform.”
—Senator John Edwards

“Rebell and Wolff set forth compelling reasons for their recommendations and suggest specific steps that should be taken by local, state, and federal education officials.  Anyone who cares about improving our public schools would benefit from their thoughtful insights and suggestions for Moving Every Child Ahead.”
—Richard Riley, Former U.S. Secretary of Education

“Michael Rebell has long been a warrior in the fight for educational equity. I am confident this book will enrich a debate sorely in need of big ideas and a willingness to challenge traditional orthodoxies.”
—Joel Klein, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education</p

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The funny, sad, super-honest, all-true story of Chelsea Handler’s year of self-discovery—featuring a nerdily brilliant psychiatrist, a shaman, four Chow Chows, some well-placed security cameras, various family members (living and departed), friends, assistants, and a lot of edibles

A SKIMM READS PICK • “This will be one of your favorite books of all time.”—Amy Schumer

In a haze of vape smoke on a rare windy night in L.A. in the fall of 2016, Chelsea Handler daydreams about what life will be like with a woman in the White House. And then Donald Trump happens. In a torpor of despair, she decides that she’s had enough of the privileged bubble she’s lived in—a bubble within a bubble—and that it’s time to make some changes, both in her personal life and in the world at large.

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Thrillingly honest, insightful, and deeply, darkly funny, Chelsea Handler’s memoir keeps readers laughing, even as it inspires us to look within and ask ourselves what really matters in our own lives.

Advance praise for Life Will Be the Death of Me

“You thought you knew Chelsea Handler—and she thought she knew herself—but in her new book, she discovers that true progress lies in the direction we haven’t been.”—Gloria Steinem 

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