Starting the Conversation on the Civics Secures Democracy Act
The Founders firmly believed that the strength of our great democracy would depend almost entirely on the wisdom and judgment of the governed. They’d probably be shocked by the state of civics education today. According to the Nation’s Report Card, only 15% of students are proficient in American history and only 24% in civics. While immigrants are passing the citizenship test at a rate of better than 90%, only one in three Americans can pass it. To see how you stack up civics knowledge, take this short quiz
Most of us can agree that having a deeper understanding of civics creates a more informed electorate. Emphasizing and restoring the importance of civics education in American classrooms in civics and history education is widely viewed as a positive thing, but the debate starts when it comes to implementation.
So Here’s the Question
At your next gathering or in a group chat, use these questions to spark a discussion:
- Does the state of civics education in the U.S. concern you? What worries you most? What makes you hopeful?
- What are the pros and cons to prioritizing STEM over other areas like civics education?
- Does having a strong understanding of how our government works help us keep our elected officials honest?
- What’s more important and why: understanding history or understanding how our government works?
- Is leaving civics education up to the states the right way to go? Why?
- What would it take to make a national curriculum work? Should the Federal government get involved?
- Are you concerned that teachers will take advantage and teach a subject based on their own views?
- Is the legislation worth the price tag? What is one thing you would definitely keep in the legislation, and one thing you would definitely remove? Why?
Something to Consider
The Civics Secures Democracy Act was recently introduced as part of a bi-partisan effort to strengthen and increase access to civics and history education through targeted federal investments. Sens. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) in the Senate and Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut), Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon and Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) in the House introduced this bi-cameral bill in an effort to restore the importance of a strong foundation of these subjects and a better understanding of how our government works.
Here’s a quick look at what the bill is supposed to provide:
- Grants to state and local education agencies
- Competitive awards to non-profit developers of evidence-based approaches to instruction
- Professional development for teachers
- Expanding research into effective practices
- Diversifying the teaching corps and expanding the number of master teachers in American history and civics
- Providing disaggregated data to evaluate progress through the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
- To ensure these efforts pay off the legislation also calls for testing of student proficiency in every state. It will require testing of civics and history at least once every two years in grades 4, 8 and 12.
- As with everything this comes with a price – $1 billion in federal funding for five years.
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