The Problem

Our democracy is broken.  But our young people can fix it.  If we teach them how to participate.

One of the only premises that everyone in this country can agree on is that our political process is in serious disarray.

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At the same time, and not coincidentally, civics education is failing in this country for two reasons.  Either:

1.Traditional civics is ineffective. Civics is traditionally seen as one of the most boring classes in school.  Students learn the three branches of government, how a bill becomes a law, and take a test.  Our young people turn 18 without the proper training to take charge of our democracy. Or;
2.Civics has been pushed out of our schools entirely.  In the midst of growing accountability, schools do not have the resources or training to focus on educating their young people to be active citizens in our democracy, even though that is precisely the original mission of schools.  

 

The problem unfolds as follows

Citizens Do Not Participate in our Democracy:

Over 80 million eligible voters did not participate in the 2012 presidential elections (More people did not vote than voted for President Obama).  Congress has a 12% approval rating.

Civics Education is Ineffective:

Either schools do not offer civics education, or it is done in a rote manner.  According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), American students test worse in civics and history than any other subject.

Inequalities Exist in Civics Education:

African-American and Hispanic students are far more likely to experience ineffective, heavily fact-based civics instruction that starts and ends inside the classroom, while their whiter, wealthier peers participate in service activities and in-class debates.