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No Citizen Left Behind [Hardcover]

Meira Levinson

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Book Description

March 26 2012 0674065786 978-0674065789

While teaching at an all-Black middle school in Atlanta, Meira Levinson realized that students’ individual self-improvement would not necessarily enable them to overcome their profound marginalization within American society. This is because of a civic empowerment gap that is as shameful and antidemocratic as the academic achievement gap targeted by No Child Left Behind. No Citizen Left Behind argues that students must be taught how to upend and reshape power relationships directly, through political and civic action. Drawing on political theory, empirical research, and her own on-the-ground experience, Levinson shows how de facto segregated urban schools can and must be at the center of this struggle.

Recovering the civic purposes of public schools will take more than tweaking the curriculum. Levinson calls on schools to remake civic education. Schools should teach collective action, openly discuss the racialized dimensions of citizenship, and provoke students by engaging their passions against contemporary injustices. Students must also have frequent opportunities to take civic and political action, including within the school itself. To build a truly egalitarian society, we must reject myths of civic sameness and empower all young people to raise their diverse voices. Levinson’s account challenges not just educators but all who care about justice, diversity, or democracy.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (March 26 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674065786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674065789
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 14.8 x 3.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #609,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


This is Dewey updated… This is a strong book. The ideas that activate it are effectively presented, the detail of real school life…vividly brought to life. (Nathan Glazer Education Next 2013-02-15)

Read No Citizen Left Behind by Meira Levinson—a forthright defense of schools as institutions for teaching about democracy and justice. (Deborah Meier Education Week blog 2012-04-19)

Levinson advocates restoring civic education, which gives young people insights into the workings of the American political system, to the educational curriculum on a national scale. She believes that ensuring all students receive the same civic education would strengthen our country and cause more citizens to take an active role in its government… Civic education is an area of education reform that experts have overlooked, but it could have a major impact on our country if achieved. The experiences and research Levinson shares have the potential to produce a national ‘aha’ moment. (Terry Christner Library Journal 2012-05-01)

Brilliant. No Citizen Left Behind is must-reading for anyone concerned with the reform of civic education in America. An inspiration for both scholars and practitioners. (Robert D. Putnam, author of Bowling Alone and co-author of American Grace)

A must-read for anyone who cares to see young people from all backgrounds grow into self-confident and efficacious citizens. (Danielle S. Allen, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton)

A landmark book that should influence teachers of all subjects in American schools while providing an important model for scholars. (Peter Levine, Tufts University)

A very sophisticated and lively argument, backed by wonderful tales from school, for what it might mean if we really educated for democracy. An important contribution to a field dominated by clichés. (Deborah Meier, co-author of Playing for Keeps)

About the Author

Meira Levinson is Associate Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, following eight years as a teacher in the Atlanta and Boston Public Schools.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meira Levinson's NO CITIZEN LEFT BEHIND Reminds Us That We All Have A Voice That Deserves To Be Heard July 8 2012
By Cyrus Webb - Published on
One of the worst feelings in the world is to be in a place an be treated like you're invisible. It's a terrible experience, but one that men and women have to contend with each and every day. What Meira Levinson's book NO CITIZEN LEFT BEHIND reminded me of, however, is that this is also a situation that young people in certain areas have to contend with as well.

This book is more than just about education and the disparities that exist in some areas of the United States. It is about what seems like an attitude of neglect for some and even apathy towards others that seemingly are being set up for failure. Meira knows this world firsthand because she taught in it, but we are able to see through her account exactly what some of those who are supposed to mold our future are having to deal with.

As someone who is all about discussing a problem with the hopes of finding a solution, my initial reaction to the book is what can I do to help fix this. I then realized that it's a question we all have to ask ourselves, and be willing to step up when the answer becomes clear to us. First we have to sound the alarm that there is trouble in our education system. Then we have to look for ways to bridge the gaps that exist, realizing that people of all walks of life deserve the opportunity to reach their own personal greatness. And that personal greatness doesn't have to be defined by what those in their families have been able to do or even those in their neighborhoods.

It's all about hope, and not giving up on that hope even when things might not move as quickly as we would like. Meira Levinson tells us that change can occur, but we have to be willing to evolve and change ourselves in order to achieve it. NO CITIZEN LEFT BEHIND is a great resource for anyone looking to make sure that those in the next generation realize they have a voice and are given the tools to make sure it is heard.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important book for educators and anyone interested in the health of democracy in the US June 5 2012
By E Kanner - Published on
In No Citizen Left Behind Dr. Levinson clearly articulates a rationale for why the civic empowerment gap is a problem for all Americans. The fact that many voices (mostly those of the poor and people of color) are not heard by politicians and policy-makers not only tarnishes the promise of American democracy but also yields ineffective public policy. Then Dr. Levinson presents one solution to this problem: improved civic education, especially for students in disenfranchised communities. Using anecdotes from her years as a teacher, arguments based on her training as a political philosopher and ample social science research, she engages the reader in a provocative discussion about the state of civic education today and how it could be improved. Dr. Levinson's writing contains all of the rigor of the academy, but is written for a general audience who just wants to know more about how American democracy can become more inclusive. Teachers and teacher educators, especially history teachers, should definitely read No Citizen Left Behind. I am a teacher educator and will be assigning this book to all of my pre-service teachers. Thank you, Dr. Levinson.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book April 2 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Great book. Well written with good examples. Really shows how much help our civics education system needs. I truly hope more policy makers read this as well as teachers. It would help us all.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Citizen Left Behind July 13 2012
By Jessica G - Published on
In No Citizen Left Behind Meira Levinson puts some fire into the often dull argument that the United States needs to get serious about civic education, calling for reform for a system that today largely excludes poor and minority students from democratic participation. Levinson explores the causes of and potential solutions to this "civic empowerment gap" through many lenses. As a political philosopher, she considers the political, sociological and historical context of the United States and of our education system, closely examining the meanings of citizenship and democracy. She asks hard questions about how we teach civics in a diverse country where our ethnoracial identities invariably dictate our experiences of citizenship. She grapples with how these theories trickle down into practice by sharing personal stories from her years of inner-city teaching. In addressing these questions and others, she doesn't fantasize about an unreachable Shangri-La of civic education. Instead, she clearly outlines the qualities of her gold standard curriculum, Action Civics, and highlights schools and organizations that have begun to actualize it.

This book is an important read, especially now, as political discourse seems to be dissolving into party-line semantics. While the book highlights many severe problems with our schools and political institutions, it also provides hope by showing that it is possible to educate ALL citizens to create a robust and engaged democracy.
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the usual nonsense about the problems with our education system Jan. 3 2014
By CARL STEWART - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book after hearing the author speak at the annual conference of Massachusetts school boards and superintendents. She was an inspiring speaker and the book amplifies her insightfulness on what is happening with education in this country. While Meira Levinson does not supply any magic bullets for solving the faults in the way we educate our children, she does have many points that every educator could benefit from. This is particularly true for those who are in "failing" schools. It may be a bitter pill to swallow but we are missing the boat if we blame our children for being difficult to educate. The system needs fixing, not the kids.

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