Opinion
Federal Letter to the Editor

Civics Courses, Political Role Should Go Hand in Hand

January 19, 2016 1 min read

To the Editor:

While the merits of the Every Student Succeeds Act can be debated, it is important to celebrate a new priority: The law authorizes the creation of four different programs that fund civics education.

In recent years, civics education has been seen as a luxury—a subject that students can take if there happens to be extra time. This de-emphasis of civics has had real ramifications.

Young people want to make a difference in these increasingly tumultuous times, but despite this idealistic spirit they do not see institutional politics as the way to create change. A recent poll found that millennials overwhelmingly felt that volunteering and charity was a better way of making positive change in society than by engaging with government. This behavior leads to a vicious circle: Because young people are not actively involved in politics, elected officials do not pay attention to issues that specifically affect young people.

One of the reasons that young people are not politically engaged, I would argue, is that schools are not teaching them civics. A recent National Assessment of Educational Progress in civics demonstrated that only 23 percent of 8th graders were proficient in the subject.

The inclusion of civics-focused education programs in ESSA provides an opening for a serious conversation about the role of civics education in the United States. As we rethink our educational priorities, we have an opportunity to promote civics as a subject that every single young person in this country should receive.

Educating young people to participate in politics cannot be seen as a luxury. It should be seen as vital for the very future of our democracy.

Scott Warren

Executive Director

Generation Citizen

New York, N.Y.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 20, 2016 edition of Education Week as Civics Courses, Political Role Should Go Hand in Hand

Events

School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Biden Pitches Plan to Expand Universal Pre-K, Free School Meal Programs, Teacher Training
The president's $1.8 trillion American Families Plan faces strong headwinds as Congress considers other costly administration proposals.
8 min read
President Joe Biden addresses Congress from the House chamber. Behind him are Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress Wednesday night, as Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., applaud.<br/>
Chip Somodevilla/AP
Federal Education Department Kicks Off Summer Learning Collaborative
The Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative will boost programs for students acutely affected by COVID-19 in 46 states.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, left, talks with Fort LeBoeuf Middle School teacher Laura Friedman during a discussion on safely returning to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic on March 3, 2021.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, left, talks with Fort LeBoeuf Middle School teacher Laura Friedman during a discussion on safely returning to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News via TNS
Federal As 100-Day Mark Approaches, Has Biden Met His School Reopening Goal? And What Comes Next?
President Joe Biden faces a self-imposed deadline of having most K-8 schools open for in-person learning by his hundredth day in office.
6 min read
First Lady Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tour Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, in Meriden, Ct., on March 3, 2021.
First lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tour Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, in Meriden, Ct., in March.
Mandel Ngan/AP
Federal How the Pandemic Is Affecting Schools' Mandated Collection of Key Civil Rights Data
COVID-19 has complicated the work of gathering a vast store of civil rights data about schools that is required by the Education Department.
7 min read
Image of data.
monsitj/iStock/Getty