This article explores the role of public schooling in preparing youth to engage in civic reasoning and civic action. The current challenges in the public arena—a pandemic, economic depression, civil unrest over continued systemic racism—illustrate the complexity of sense-making required to address these conundrums. At the same time, these challenges highlight inequities that have persisted over the course of U.S. history. The article further explores the mix of challenges and opportunities that the structure of the U.S. government poses to citizens hoping to grapple with these complexities, arguing that the knowledge base required to meet these civic challenges and opportunities are not just cognitive but epistemological and ethical. The article concludes that the development of such a complex knowledge base must be distributed across the K–12 public education sector: not limited to civics classes, but distributed across all the disciplines taught in schools.


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pp. 90-99
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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