Democracy schools in America were associated with the "common school movement," embodying ideals of a "commonwealth" created and sustained by people in communities. As people made the commonwealth -- and its common schools -- they became invested in the commonwealth as a counterweight to private wealth. Can we do this again? If so, how did you rebuild a sense of ownership and connections in communities with the schools you were involved with?

Just as politics is an important function of a working democracy, smart politics can benefit schools and enhance democracy in schools, argues Deb Meier.

What's democracy got to do with teaching? Deborah Meier asked. A lot - including the nature of pedagogy and the identity of teachers who teach love of ideas, the importance of evidence, and the importance of public relationships with other adults, teachers and parents.

Democracy only works when open discourse is embraced. Schools must encourage discourse, and, even argument for the purpose of creating a foundation for democracy, and, in turn, some degree of liberty.

We need an "epistemology of agency" to counter today's growing "post-truth politics." And students will be receptive. They sense that we have the technology and the assets to address mounting problems. What we lack is education for civic agency, ways of knowing, learning, and acting to develop the capacities on a large scale for effective action across our differences. How can schools and colleges rise to this occasion?

The opinions expressed in Bridging Differences are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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