In the News: Will Better Civics Classes Lead to a Better America? Don’t Count on It

In a column for the Washington Post, Jay Mathews considers whether schools need to do a better job of preparing students to be good citizens.

Mathews rejects the idea that “the renewed interest in governing caused by the election might lead to better teaching” and and greater civic virtue. That idea is discussed in a piece Mathews quotes from Education Next by Robert Pondiscio, “Can a Redesigned AP Government Course Get Schools Back Into the Civic Education Game?

Mathews writes:

Better civics classes won’t help. Ignorance of American government and history is part of our culture. Our average scores on civics have always been low…We’ll always be more interested in getting our bills paid and finding time for fun than studying candidates’ position papers.

Mathews concludes:

As Pondiscio wisely observes, there are no prerequisites for AP government in our high schools. Schools should urge many more students to take it. But no matter how much they learn, their votes are likely to be more influenced by their fears and ambitions. 

— Education Next

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