School of Education News

UW-Madison's Hess takes part in UVA panel on youth civic engagement

November 06, 2017
UW-Madison's Diana Hess took part as a panel member in the Youth-Act conference at the University of Virginia examining current youth civic and political engagement. 

Hess is the dean of the School of Education and holds the Karen A. Falk Distinguished Chair of Education. 

At the conference, Hess spoke about the fact public schools are built on the mission of preparing students to participate in a democratic society.

Diana Hess
“The likelihood of America continuing to have a democracy is less of a sure thing than I would have thought five or 10 years ago,” Hess said at the conference, according to a report from Charlottesville Tomorrow. “I think the best and most authentic way to assess the performance of schools would be to ask: what role is that school or district playing in improving the quality of our democracy?”

Hess also spoke about how rising political polarization and economic inequality are making American schools more homogeneous. Hess says this interferes with the thinking she explores in her 2016 book "The Political Classroom," co-authored with the School of Education's Paula McAvoy.

“We are robbing schools of the opportunity to keep students together, working on the kind of problems that we care about,” Hess said. “The political climate is changing in ways that make it harder for schools to do this work.”

Read the full Charlottesville Tomorrow article covering the Youth-Act conference: "UVa conference highlights youth activism, civic engagement."

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