Civic Health & Education

Achieving more education strongly predicts the likelihood that a person becomes civically engaged. The civic gap between young people without high school diplomas and college graduates is quite large; and in some cases, a college graduate is four or five times as likely to engage in civic actions as someone without a high school diploma.

The arrow between civic engagement and education might point in both directions as some research demonstrates that increased engagement may lead to increased access to educational opportunities, better academic performance, and higher retention rates in higher education.

According to research by Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), “students who recall having received better civic education are more likely to be engaged. Discussing current controversial issues seems to boost knowledge and interest. Service-learning is helpful if students feel that they have addressed important social issues (but unhelpful if they do not). Belonging to student groups increases engagement in community life and politics.

Findings in Action

Finding: Civic engagement levels of Millennials in Florida are between 7 and 20 percentage points below that of Millennials in the most engaged states in the nation. Millennials in Florida are also less engaged by  2 to 23 percentage points than those aged 30 and over in Florida (who themselves are generally less engaged than the nation).

Action: Partners in Florida have long cited the Civic Health Index (CHI) as helping to demonstrate the urgency for civic education reform, and playing an influential role in the passage of the Sandra Day O’ Connor Civic Education Act, which adds civics to the K-12 accountability system.

“What the 2008 report did was move some legislators to an understanding that there was a real issue in Florida. It took us two more years to actually get the legislation passed but nonetheless even then as the legislation passed, the 2008 report was distributed to the members of the House and Senate by staff and certainly to members of relevant committees. So, it attracted a lot of attention among legislators and those who were concerned about educational policy in the department of education, as well.” -Doug Dobson, Executive Director of the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship

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