Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Civic Education as an Instrument of Social Mobility

26 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2013 Last revised: 1 Aug 2014

Dawinder S. Sidhu

University of Baltimore School of Law; Shook, Hardy & Bacon

Date Written: August 26, 2013


Economic inequality -- the relative distance between the wealthy and the poor -- is growing in the United States. Relatedly, social mobility -- the opportunity to rise economically -- has stalled for many in the nation. This is most true for the urban poor, who experience extreme poverty and are trapped in American inner cities. Meaningful economic opportunity and robust public educational support are among the traditionally-discussed means by which the urban poor may attain enhanced economic and physical mobility. The question becomes whether civic education -- an understanding of the structure and contents of the U.S. Constitution and of the American government more broadly -- has anything to offer in terms of uplifting the urban poor out of their economic stagnation and physical isolation.

This Article explores, by way of interviews with various stakeholders, whether there is a cognizable relationship between civic education and increasing the urban poor's prospects for social and physical mobility. It affirms that civic education can play a role in facilitating such mobility and argues that law schools should shoulder some of the responsibility to provide civic education in high schools located in urban areas of concentrated poverty. The Article also provides specific guidance on how civic education programs can be tailored to be most effective in these high schools.

Keywords: civics, education, constitutional literacy, mobility, urban, law schools, high schools, students

Suggested Citation

Sidhu, Dawinder S., Civic Education as an Instrument of Social Mobility (August 26, 2013). 90 Denver University Law Review 977 (2013); UNM School of Law Research Paper No. 2013-01. Available at SSRN:

Dawinder S. Sidhu (Contact Author)

University of Baltimore School of Law ( email )

1401 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
United States

Shook, Hardy & Bacon

1155 F Street NW
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20004
United States

Paper statistics

Abstract Views