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Bank Street Education Center


Given the current challenges facing our democracy in the United States, the role of public schools in forming habits of democratic practice in our citizenry is as important today as ever. To explore this urgent topic, the author interviewed 13 leaders of 10 New York City public schools committed to educating for and with democracy. Six patterns of beliefs and practices emerged from the conversations, including commitments to intentionally developing informed, empathic, inclusive, inquiry-minded, confident, vocal, and involved citizens through parallel democratic structures for both adults and students. A seventh pattern was also identified; however, it took the shape of the absence of an intentional naming of democracy as it is being practiced. This raised a question for further discussion: To what degree is making this connection explicit in school communities important? Implications of these patterns are briefly discussed, and a few recommended next steps are offered for the consideration of educational leaders and policy makers. It is the hope and plan of the author to bring the group of interviewed school leaders together to discuss these patterns and dig more deeply into the work of schooling for and with democratic participation.

Publication Date

Spring 2018


The University of Chicago Press in association with The Francis W. Parker School




democracy in education, citizenship, public schools, school leaders


Civic and Community Engagement | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education


Originally published in Schools: Studies in Education, v15; n1 p9-36 Spring 2018

©2018 by University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved.

Reprinted with permission.

Schooling for and with Democracy