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Education Secretary Latest Figure to Argue in Favor of Improved Civic Education

Education Secretary Latest Figure to Argue in Favor of Improved Civic Education

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. is the latest figure to argue in favor of improved civic education in schools in order to better develop active, informed citizens.

Earlier in the week, King gave a speech at the National Press Club where he urged for active efforts to teach students about how to collaborate and become strategic voters to ultimately tackle the problems that face the nation. 

This reformed education, King said, starts by focusing more on teaching students about the “primary sources that have shaped our nation’s history,” particularly the Constitution.

Looking ahead, King argued that better civic education is one way to solve big issues like tensions between “police and communities of color,” said U.S. News.

". . . people need the knowledge, skills and inclination to get involved, things that are best learned in school, King said,” according to U.S. News.

King is the latest figure to argue for better civic education but he’s certainly not the first.

In fact, past scholars have argued that “citizenship” should be a “third C” after college and career standards.

In the conclusion to Making Civics Count: Citizenship Education for a New Generation, education expert Meira Levinson argues in favor of civic education, even in a country crowded with education issues like the achievement gap.

"Without civic knowledge, skills, identity, and propensity toward engagement, some students are essentially disenfranchised and disempowered. Civic learning opportunities are thus essential for promoting civic equity as a democratic ideal,” Levinson says. 

The current lacking of civic education on a national level, the experts say, is an assault to both democracy and individual freedom.

In 2014, the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia echoed this sentiment when talking about the poor state of civics education.

"I don't think we can be too cocky about America always being America. It's going to change unless the people have the same determination to preserve liberty that the framers had,” he said.

These experts' concerns are supported by annually low U.S. student test scores on civic education tests. Year after year U.S. students perform badly, like last year when a survey commissioned by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) revealed just how low constitutional literacy is.

"One third of respondents couldn’t correctly identify the Bill of Rights as a series of amendments to the Constitution, only 54 percent could correctly state the term lengths for U.S. senators and representatives, and 32 percent thought John Boehner was president of the Senate rather than speaker of the House,” said The Daily Caller.

What do you think? Should bolstering civics education be a priority? Take our poll to weigh-in.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

10/21/2016

Should civics education in K-12 get a re-boot?

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