Lack of civics education a major failing

Letters to the Editor

October 26, 2010 — I applaud Diane Schemo for asking the question that we in the Civic Education field have been asking for years. Her article, Preparation for Active Citizenship not on Education Agenda, highlights what is a major oversight in our approach to education. Math and Reading are of course important but are a part of many disciplines that students should master to become functioning members of a society.

In [North Carolina], we are fortunate to have citizens interested in educating our children about their rights AND responsibilities in our American democracy with two organizations, Kids Voting and NC Civic Education Consortium. Kids Voting is a civic education program that teaches children to become educated engaged voters and participants in the political process at all levels of government. We have lessons and activities that are civics lessons but also meet state standards for English and Mathematics. These lessons are not add-ons but offer teachers an opportunity to teach two subjects at the same time.

The NC Civic Education Consortium creates lessons, trains teachers and brings together civic organizations across the state to be the “go to” source for teachers on civics. Their success is an endorsement of NC’s commitment to civic education.

To sustain our democracy, we must train students on their civic duties. As I work on promoting civic education in our state, I am reminded of this quote by Thomas Jefferson:

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.

Thank you for highlighting this issue.

Daintry O’Brien (Greensboro, North Carolina)

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