Five Questions State Boards Should Ask about Civics Education Reform
Efforts to better educate students about the workings of the government and how to be an effective, engaged citizen have declined sharply over the past generation. For many years, students have graduated high school knowing less than preceding generations about how democratic institutions work and how they can effect social change. In recent months, COVID-19 hit subjects that fall outside English language arts and mathematics the hardest. Civics education has thus been further marginalized during an election season, when students typically have opportunities to put theory into action by engaging in local electoral events and practicing civil debate in an era of intense polarization.
For seven years, I was a member of the Arkansas State Board of Education. Before and during my state board term, I taught and researched American politics in a college setting and coordinated civic engagement activities for my students. Because I had dedicated most of my life to aiding students in determining how their skills and talents could play a role in social and political change, I left the state board disappointed that I was not able to spend. […]