- 65% of us in the Seattle area vote in local elections (sometimes or always);
- 58% of us trust most or all the people in our neighborhood;
- 44% of us are involved with some sort of group or association (school, church, sports, etc.);
- 34% of us do volunteer work;
- 29% of us have a great deal of confidence in our public schools.
What is civic health? The authors’ definition is: “a community’s capacity to work together to resolve collective problems.” Overall, they say, Seattle’s civic health is excellent. “Our metropolitan region has vibrant civic institutions, active voters, innovative social entrepreneurs and a strong culture of volunteerism and philanthropy.”
Not so fast, however. The authors quickly point out that much needs to be done — especially when it comes to education.
Where We Need Improvement
The Seattle area is one of the most educated and literate communities in the U.S., says the report. “Yet beneath this rosy headline lies a more complicated story.”
Our region ranks high in the number of residents with college degrees. But this is mostly due to Puget Sound employers attracting highly educated workers from elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad. Based on 2010-2011 results, Washington State ranked 34 out of 50 among U.S. states on high school graduation rates.
“There are great disparities in educational achievement based on social class, race and income. This threat to our civic strength is made even more serious by demographic trends showing that regional income disparities are widening while racial and ethnic diversity is increasing – faster here than in the nation at-large.”
BTW: Only 8% of Seattle-area residents say they frequently express opinions on the Internet. If you’re one of these people, let us know: what do you think is the Seattle area’s biggest civic challenge?
*About the Greater Seattle Civic Health Index: Produced by Seattle CityClub and the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), much of the report data are from the latest U.S. Census (the Current Population Survey Supplements on Voting, Volunteering and Civic Engagement). Greater Seattle is defined as King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties. Data analysis for the report was done by Tufts University (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement).