Friday, September 05, 2003

Reclaiming democratic citizenship 

As I've mentioned before, there is a Democratic Citizenship course in SCSU's general education core (meaning everyone takes it) that has a significant component of leftish propaganda in it. Now SCSU has joined the American Democracy Project, which appears to extend that leftist view further -- democratic citizenship is equated not with liberty and freedom but with civic service and community. What a relief, then, to get in the mail yesterday notice of a report from the Thomas Fordham Foundation that provides a curative. Within it is an excellent essay by Katherine Kersten, on what that reclamation would mean.
Education for democratic citizenship has two central components. First, our young people should come to understand-and embrace-the principles of liberty, equality, and justice upon which this nation was founded. They should learn about the institutions that make self-government possible, and become acquainted with democracy's unique historical roots. Second, they should develop the qualities of character that mark true citizens: courage, loyalty, responsibility, gratitude to forebears, and a self-sacrificing devotion to the common good. As democratic citizens, they must have a capacity for judgment, an ability to discern their duty, and a love for-and desire to perpetuate-the republic.