Much has been said about the achievement gap, which Democracy Prep strives to close every day. However, very little is said about the "civic achievement gap." With few exceptions, the civic knowledge, skills, and attitudes of low-income Americans are far lower than the rest of the population as measured by voter registration rates, voting records, political contribution records, and civic volunteering rates.
We believe that public schools should place an explicit focus on preparing scholars to become active citizens and leaders. Through civic initiatives, community engagement, speech and debate, as well as authentic student and family advocacy, our scholars acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitude to change the world.
Parent advocacy is as important to our organization as student advocacy, so important that our parents have their own organization to give them the tools they need to have their voices heard. The Family Leadership Councils work with principals to improve schools as well as work within their local community to improve the lives of our families and our neighbors.
Each Election Day Democracy Prep scholars "Get Out The Vote" by standing on busy street corners, wearing t-shirts and handing out flyers that read: I Can't Vote, but You Can! Over the past five years, they have encouraged over 50,000 Harlem voters to get out the vote. To register to vote in New York City click here.
We emphasize to our scholars is that as citizens we must hold our representatives accountable for their voting decisions and their leadership. Starting in 6th grade, our learn who their representatives are at every level and branch of government. When our scholars hit the streets to encourage the community to vote we find that they are asked who is running and for what scholars wind up teaching the adults rather than vice versa. Are you as civically informed as a Democracy Prep scholar?
CitizenshipFirst aims to become the country’s most creative driver of civic-education innovation. Through advocacy, in-school programs, research and reports, CitizenshipFirst hopes to remind educators, policymakers and all Americans that the founding purpose of education was to prepare our nation’s young people for self-government, and that restoring the civic mission of education must be an urgent national priority. Learn more at www.CitizenshipFirst.us.