CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

National Poll Finds Support for Service, Deliberation, and Civic Education

September 22nd, 2008
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CIRCLE designed and analyzed the 2008 Civic Health Index Poll for the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), with input from the NCoC and its Civic Indicators Working Group. The survey was conducted in July by Peter D. Hart Research Associates with national samples of 1,000 respondents interviewed by telephone and 1000 surveyed online, plus large samples in Ohio, Florida, and California. It was released today at the National Archives. Read the CIRCLE press release or the whole report as a PDF.

The survey provides a wealth of information about Americans’ civic participation. Citizens are heavily engaged in political activities during the 2008 campaign, but many do not anticipate taking action on issues raised during the campaign after the election is over. The survey did, however, find strong and bipartisan support for policies that would institutionalize civic engagement between elections:

  • 87% favored expanding national and community service programs so that every young American would have a chance to serve full-time for a year
  • 80% favored holding a national deliberation on a major policy issue and requiring Congress to hold hearings on the results
  • 76% would like service-learning to be required of all high school students
  • 67% would strengthen civic education by requiring new tests

Finally, the survey collected Americans’ reactions to key words used to promote civic engagement, such as “citizenship,” “service,” “democracy,” and “community organizing.” The results demonstrate that all these words and phrases are problematic if our goal is to promote active involvement in democracy. For example, although “community organizing” has been discussed as a controversial phrase since the Republican convention, we find that most Americans either do not know what it means or associate it with benign, helping behavior.

5 Responses to “National Poll Finds Support for Service, Deliberation, and Civic Education”

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  5. Trevane Says:

    I think that community organizing can be really good and it’s true that lots of people don’t really understand what the benefits are. It shouldn’t be underestimated.