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Preparation for Civic Life Matters Understanding the Role of Civic Learning in the Linked Learning Reform


There has been renewed concern about American's disengagement from political and civic institutions (Putnam, 2000). This research explores civic learning opportunities in a current educational reform. Through a mixed-method, representative case study analysis, I examine two school sites implementing the Linked Learning approach to educational reform to determine how the reform structure creates opportunities and challenges to civic learning. Linked Learning is a high school reform that many see as a response to stratification by preparing students simultaneously for college, career, and civic participation (Oakes & Saunders, 2008). However, most of the current research and language describing the reform excludes an analysis of civic learning. The Linked Learning reform continues to grow in popularity and is quickly changing the educational landscapes in places like California and New York, thus it is critical to reignite conversations about civics within this reform. For this reason, Linked Learning provides an ideal space to explore the relationship between high school reforms, the civic purpose of education and the academic and social benefits of civic learning opportunities.

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