There’s been a concerted and largely successful effort from the right in recent years to steer school children away from critical thinking so essential to a functioning democracy. In the drive toward teaching-to-tests and making schools into places where kids just keep their heads down, much of the original intent for public schools–to shore up our democracy through an active and engaged citizenry–has been seriously eroded. While there are those who want schools to churn out obedient subjects, all is far from lost. As Joel Westheimer, author of the new book “What Kind of Citizen? Educating Our Children for the Common Good” tells us, there is reason for optimism.