Our public school system — one of the great achievements of American democracy — is not just a service for the public to consume. It is a lifelong compact among Americans to continually renew our nation's future, to be actively supported by all citizens, whether or not they have children of school age. It is vital to ensure a populace with the knowledge and skills to succeed in, and create, good jobs. Indeed, Americans view education as a core value as well as a key service, according to research by pollster Celinda Lake. So, what does civic investment mean, and why is it so important today?