The Effect of Social Studies Coursework on Young Adult Voting Behavior
Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), with its renewed emphasis on basic skills, such as reading and math, the importance placed on teaching social studies has declined. Drawing from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS:88), this study employs logistic regression analysis to examine the relationship between the amount of social studies classes taken in high school and the political engagement of young adults. Results reveal that even after controlling for socio-economic status, race, gender, academic motivation, and educational attainment, increasing amounts of social studies courses led to a higher likelihood that respondents voted in the 1992 US presidential election, the 1996 US presidential election, and in recent local and state elections. The study also examined the possibility that the impact of social studies coursework may vary according to a student's socio-economic status. While results were considerably more limited in terms of statistical significance, some evidence did point toward a greater negative impact of cutting social studies coursework on the later voting behavior of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Policy implications are discussed, and further study is recommended.
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