In a recent op-ed piece in the Washington Post, Ronald Daniels, the President of John Hopkins University, said higher education is failing in its responsibility to create informed citizens — a problem the Community Learning Partnership is working to rectify.
As evidence, he cited a recent poll that showed — despite the recent impeachment hearings that dominated the media over the past several months — fewer than a third of Americans actually know what impeachment is.
Daniels listed several other warning signs of the failure of higher education to engage students in the very basics of democratic participation, including:
- A 20-year low in political tolderance
- That young people struggle to distinguish reliable information from misinformation online, and
- The continuing degradation of the public’s faith in core democratic institutions.
Daniels also makes a clear distinction between “service” and democratic participation. Educational educations have long stressed the importance of giving back to one’s community but, as Daniels notes, this hasn’t prevented the breakdown in student’s basic knowledge of and engagement with the practice of democracy.
“Colleges and universities must train not only engineers, scientists, humanists and business leaders but also citizens,” Daniels concludes. “And we must do so in the hope that our students will help us to build a democracy where the constitutional glass can remain unbroken.”
We at the Community Learning Partnership have long made it our mission to do just this — equip students with the skills they need to be leaders in their communities. We applaud Daniels’ attempt to draw attention to this need, and hope other educational institutions and inspired by the call to action