Building democracy in schools is best thought of as a strand of a larger strategy to resist the rising authoritarian dangers of our time. Such a strategy calls for cross-partisan politics, organizing that sees the democratic potential in every kind of community, and a commitment to defending democracy and also deepening democracy.
Deborah Meier questions whether it's natural for democracy to depend on a heterogeneous population base, where the country's mainstream is not ready to embrace the idea of equality in its fullest sense.
America's history of collective action around schools—schools created by people's public work—is vital to remember in this election season because it is a story of the strength of the people, not the strength of elites. It includes largely unknown stories like the vast citizenship school movement of the civil rights movement, in which people found their strength. This election is all about the strength of celebrity candidates, not the people. We badly need a different public narrative of America.
Where do pre-adults have a chance "to learn democracy," much less get in the habit of expecting it?
Focus on the "structures" of democracy brings to mind the role of elections and assessment in a democratic way of life. How do we think about elections if "we the people" are at the center? How do we avoid another "Southern strategy" like Nixon's, which divided working people by race? How do we assess civic agency?