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Teacher educators have an obligation to prepare preservice teachers with the skills and dispositions necessary to promote a socially just world. Yet the results of this study uncovered that the majority of elementary preservice teachers in a national sample (N = 846) have a simplistic perception of good citizenship consistent with what Westheimer and Kahne called a “personally responsible” model of citizenship. Follow-up interviews with 21 participants revealed a problematic trend among 14 participants: inadequate content knowledge and minimal support or even resistance to socially just action. As this trend is antithetical to a democratic government and the very nature of social studies, we recommend teacher educators attempt to move preservice candidates in the direction of adopting Westheimer and Kahne’s justice orientation toward citizenship when teaching elementary students in their future classrooms.

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This is an accepted manuscript of an article published by Routledge a Taylor & Francis Group in Theory & Research in Social Education on Aug. 21, 2015, available online at doi: 10.1080/00933104.2015.1065530