Major California Civic Health Study to Be Released on November 10

Following the key November 2 mid-term elections, the Congressionally-chartered National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), in collaboration with Pepperdine University’s Davenport Institute, California Forward, and the Center for Civic Education, will release its annual study of California civic participation – the 2010 California Civic Health Index – at a press conference at Pepperdine (Drescher Graduate Campus from noon to 1:30 p.m.) on November 10. (Embargoed copies available Nov. 9 from Pepperdine’s Office of Public Relations and News, : .)

This year’s study examines two broad categories of civic health. “Social civic engagement” includes activities such as volunteering, working with neighbors on local problems, dining with family and group membership. “Political civic engagement” examines matters such as voting, registering to vote, and discussing politics with others. “Now, more than ever, states and localities need to integrate these important metrics into their community renewal strategies,” said David B. Smith, executive director of the National Conference on Citizenship. “California is at a critical crossroads, and we believe that restoring the civic fabric of the state will be key to tackling the challenges that lie ahead.”

The Index, embargoed until November 10, appears at first glance to paint a bleak picture of California because the state ranks low in a number of categories. However, upon closer examination, the contrary is actually true with California comparing very favorably in several of those categories with New York, Texas and other ethnically diverse states that have large numbers of non-English speaking residents. Trend lines for California since 2007 also exhibit very positive signs.

Such inverse relationships between civic participation and diversity are not uncommon. In fact, in his 2007 study, “E Pluribus Unum,” noted political scientist Robert Putnam noted that issues related to language and culture do indeed impact civic participation.

Scheduled speakers at the release event hosted by Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy include:

    - David B. Smith, executive director, National Conference on Citizenship (Washington, D.C.)
    - Bruce McPherson, former California Secretary of State, member of California Forward’s Leadership Council (unconfirmed)
    - Pete Peterson, executive director, Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy (Malibu, CA)
    - Maria Gallo: Director, Center for Civic Education (Calabasas, CA)

Following remarks by Pete Peterson describing this year’s results in California, David Smith will offer a national perspective on civic engagement. This will be followed by a roundtable discussion involving Peterson, Bruce McPherson and Maria Gallo focusing on possible policy approaches to encourage even greater civic involvement in California.

The 2010 CHI is the third annual study of Californians’ civic participation. Data was gathered from the Census Current Population Survey (CPS) and its Volunteering and Voting Supplements.

This year’s California report follows the September release of the National Civic Health Assessment in Washington, D.C., and is one of 13 state- and four city-level reports. Other states surveyed include.
Arizona, New York, Texas, Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.

The National Conference on Citizenship develops the Indexes with data analysis provided by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University. Members of the national Civic Health Index Working Group include civic scholars Robert Putnam, Bill Galston, Stephen Goldsmith and Peter Levine.

While Californians show room for improvement in most civic participation measures, positive increases in many areas over the last few years demonstrate that the Golden State is on the right path.

Reporters’ note: Pete Peterson of the Davenport Institute will be available for comment on the report via telephone, e-mail and uplink via Pepperdine’s Live Feed Studio on its Malibu campus Nov. 10 and 11.
David B. Smith of the National Conference on Citizenship will be available for comment via telephone and e-mail on November 10 and following the report release.

Pepperdine University Bill Krenn, 310-506-6589

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