• Josh Arnold

The Impact of Civics Education

The last few years I’ve heard a lot of “what a time to be a civics teacher” from parents and even other teachers. Fearful of asking why they might say this I’m left to draw my own conclusions. Witnessing the same political and current events makes it easy to do so.

No matter what your political leanings are, nearly everyone has the same view that we are living in partisan times where our political views decide what is fact. In order to preserve the future of our democracy students of the next generation of voters and leaders will need to experience a revival of civics education.

Helping to establish a baseline of facts

News media is no longer unbiased and principled reporting as the political spectrum in the United States has given rise to competing narratives on current events. Missing from the news cycle is a baseline of facts that all Americans can use as a reality check. The Constitution is vague in more than a few areas but at times can be rock solid in terms of compass to guide coequal branches of government. Much of this was done by the Framers to check the power of one individual in the executive or factions in the legislative branch. A well informed voting base would recognize these checks and use them as guidelines for understanding the news and making informed decisions.

Using history as a barometer for current events

Along with knowing how our system of government is structured and functions, students also gain insight into society by studying current events with a historical lens. Events such as those leading up to the American Revolution serve as a reminder as to what totalitarian rule looks like over an economic system and its everyday citizens. The Civil Rights movement is a lesson that teaches the importance of minority rights in the face of oppressive majority rule. Recent impeachment proceedings gave opportunity to gauge possible outcomes before the matter is resolved in the United States Senate with the Johnson and Clinton Impeachments showing precedent. Students can learn to unpack these lessons in an effort to remain informed.

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