“Once I was discriminated. Well, I wasn’t really discriminated. But it was sorta like that. Well, I’m Jewish and in the first grade we talked a lot about churches and other Christian things. I felt if I told everyone I was Jewish, I would be discriminated. So I told them I was Christian….I felt bad about lying.”
–Anna, 4th Grade, Boston, MA
The Education for Democracy Institute
Addresses Inequality, Poverty, Discrimination, Violence, and Illiteracy
Fosters Voice, Peace, Academic Achievement, Democracy
Empowers Children, Adolescents, Families, Schools, and Communities
Our Approach: Integrate the teaching of transformative social and democratic competencies with core academic and critical thinking skills.
What Makes Us Unique: Improving academic achievement by itself is not enough. Students also need to learn the social values and skills that will help them cope with the social obstacles in their lives as well as learn the democratic values and skills that will help them overcome these social obstacles and create a more just and democratic society.
A Comprehensive Approach: Furthermore, schools need to work with families and community organizations to support students mastering these competencies at home, in their schools, and in their communities.
Completely Digital: A major focus of our work is to explore and develop ways of using digital technology to facilitate the teaching and integrating of both social and academic competencies.
Two Decade of Experience: The Education for Democracy Institute builds on over twenty-five years of experience developing the various Voices books and curriculum developed by the Education for Democracy and Voices authors and published by Zaner-Bloser.
Click here for History of Education for Democracy Institute and Voices.
Click here for Education for Democracy Institute Board of Directors.
Click here for Related Research and Efficacy Studies.
A National Approach to Violence Prevention
The first initiative of the Education for Democracy Institute will be to launch the Peace, Literacy & Democracy Project to contribute to the prevention of violence in our country and around the world. This project consists of three components: Peace & Democracy Discussions, Peace & Democracy eBooks and Digital Games, and the Peace & Democracy Major Cities Pilot Project.
Peace & Democracy Discussions
The goal of Peace & Democracy Discussions is to engage all children in discussions with family members, friends, classmates, teachers, librarians, social workers, youth workers, police officers, doctors, nurses, clergy, and/or religious leaders about how to create a more peaceful and democratic society.
Peace & Democracy eBooks and Digital Games
Peace & Democracy eBooks and Digital Games will provide digital versions of multicultural literature, along with story-based interactive digital games, activities, and curriculum, that can help children and adults discuss important social issues and work together to improve our society.
The Peace & Democracy Major Cities Pilot Project
We plan to pilot the first Peace & Democracy eBook, It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way: A Barrio Story (No tiene que ser así: una historia del barrio) written by Luis J. Rodríguez in a diverse set of cities across the country. In each city, the goal is to give this eBook and digital game to as many children as possible and to use this story and related activities to discuss what are the things in their city that “don’t have to be this way”, such as violence, and brainstorm ways to solve these problems.
Click here for Peace, Literacy & Democracy Project.
Peace & Democracy Authors
“Ideally, every student would have the chance every day to encounter questions so compelling that they are willing to think deeply about them, discuss them, search for answers, and write out responses. Such questions become the source of learning to read deeply and thoughtfully.”
–Prof. Catherine Snow, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Peace & Democracy author
“Writing can be about re-making and re-articulating reality. As many classical and modern rhetoricians have held, those who have the power of language have the power to change the world.”
–Prof. Ernest Morrell, Teachers College, Columbia University, Peace & Democracy author
The Peace, Literacy & Democracy Project builds on the experience of developing the following Voices products over the past twelve years that are published and distributed by Zaner-Bloser. All of the Voices authors are also Peace & Democracy eBook authors.
- Voices Reading (K to 6)
- Voices Pre-K
- Voices Literature and Character Education (6-8)
- Voices Literature and Writing (K-6)
- Voices Leveled Library (K-6)
- Voices 3c eLessons (K-6)
These curriculum products have been purchased by over 2,000 school nationwide.
Click here to view the Voices products. The Education for Democracy Institute provides professional development support for all these products.
“So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most important weapons.”
–Malala Yousafzai, Winner of the Nobel Prize, 2012
3. Professional Development
To support the P&D eBooks and the Voices curricula, we will provide both onsite and online professional development that help administrators, staff, teachers, families, and community members integrate these core competencies throughout the subject areas, in the school culture, at home, and in the surrounding community.
On-Site Professional Development
- Building School- and District-Based Professional Development Capacity
- Customized Workshops and Institutes
- On-Site Modeling and Coaching
- Professional Development Learning Communities
- Teacher Partners
On-Line Professional Development
- Online eCourses
- Online support
- Teacher chatrooms
- PL&D Professional Development Video Library
- Free access to Peace, Literacy & Democracy by Pat Walker (online book)
Click here for Professional Development.
4. Future Projects
In the future, we are interested in developing social studies and STEM curriculum that similarly integrate the teaching of these social, critical thinking, and democratic competencies into these content areas.
We are also exploring establishing the Peace & Democracy School Design as a comprehensive school reform model based on the Voices School Design which was approved in twenty states.
To provide long term research and professional development support for schools using these curricula and this school design model, we are also interested in developing a network of professional development schools (“like teaching hospitals”) around the country.
Peace & Democracy Authors
“. . . there are two core competencies that we believe each individual must develop . . . . The first is the capacity to be aware of one’s own point of view . . . The second is the capacity to take the point of view of another person, group, or even society as a whole.”
–Prof. Robert Selman, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Peace & Democracy author
“What are the most powerful ways to help a child improve his or her life? This is the question that my neighbors and I asked ourselves after my next-door neighbor, Axel Reyes, was killed in a fight between his gang and a rival gang in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston in 1993.”
— Patrick C. Walker, Ph.D., Director, The Education for Democracy Institute, Peace & Democracy eBooks author