Schooling and Civic Behavior: A Global Perspective

General Information

Schooling and Civic Behavior: A Global Perspective
Ian Kingsbury
Publication Type
Dissertation (Bachelor/Master/Phd)
University of Arkansas
National governments confront different challenges to the goal of creating model citizens, as well as different ambitions in the type of citizen that they wish to create. The United States government faces a tension in determining the role of education in shaping the social order. As a liberal democracy that extols the virtue of individual liberty, the United States should allow educational pluralism to flourish. Paradoxically, however, a nation of immigrants might require an education system that turns students into “proper Americans” who honor the precepts of liberty, equality, and self-government. I draw from domestic and international studies to inform some of the drawbacks, strengths, and limitations of homogenizing centralized education versus decentralized pluralistic education.

The chapters that follow feature studies from regions in which a majority ascribes to a different Abrahamic religion: The United States, the Arab World, and Israel. In chapter one, I empirically examine whether non-government (i.e. private) schools undermine American civic health. Specifically, I examine how attending private school affects American voting behavior. I observe that private schooling has no association with the likelihood of voting, but that each additional year of private schooling is associated with a decreased likelihood of supporting Donald Trump in the 2016 election. In chapter two, I examine the root cause of low private returns to education in the Arab World, where education is highly centralized. I find suggestive evidence that common characteristics of Arab world political economy, including poor academic performance, economic reliance on natural resources, and corruption suppress private returns to education. I hypothesize that low returns to education might contribute to frequent waves of social unrest and upheaval. In chapter three, I examine how Israel’s pluralistic education system allows Haredi (i.e. ultra-Orthodox) Jews to teach values at odds with much of Israeli society. I further explain that other segments of the population express frustration over the subsidization of an education sector that provides no discernible benefit for a society with secular, materialistic visions of progress. Finally, I explain how Israel’s parliamentary system limits the likelihood of meaningful reform to address the grievances of secular Israeli society.