Forum 2017: Civics Education Is Like Sports...
Forum 2017: Civics Education Is Like Sports...Kari Myers, Assistant Director, Communications
Stefanie Sanford, Chief of Global Policy and External Relations at the College Board, was joined by DeNora Getachew, the NYC Executive Director at Generation Citizen, Ted McConnell, Executive Director of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, and Stephen Meinhold, Professor of Political Science at University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Chief Reader, AP U.S. Government and Politics, to discuss their commitment to improving civic education in the United States. The discussion kicked off by bringing to the forefront the different elements of teaching civics (civic knowledge , civic action, , and civic dispositions and skills), the values of civic education instruction, what should be taught in schools, and the skills students need to learn, with the underlying goal of preparing young people for citizenship.
Stefanie highlighted some startling statistics: “Two thirds of American’s can’t name all three branches of the United States Government, thirty seven percent couldn’t name the five rights protected by the First Amendment, and about half could only name freedom of speech.” So how are different educators and organizations across the country addressing this? Stefanie noted the College Board has recently made some large contributions to civics education, such as making changes to the AP U.S. History and AP Government and Politics course frameworks, and announcing that every time a student sits for the redesigned PSAT/NMSQT or the SAT, they will encounter a passage from either the American founding documents or the Great Global Conversation they inspired. DeNora noted that Generation Citizen is “focused on the position that an effective action-oriented civics education and sustained participation is needed to re-engage young people in the local political system, and to collectively rebuild our democracy.” Stephen stated that “when redesigning the AP U.S. Government, rather than just hoping teachers will touch on various institutional documents, we TOLD them!” He continued, “You must have that touchstone of basic core fundamental documents, and have the core knowledge of American Government classes, to be a whole citizen.”
All panelists agreed that effective citizenship requires civic knowledge, civic skills, and a sense of agency. Young people need to know things, know how to do things, and believe that their effort will matter in making change. All of the panelists were deeply committed to making this a priority. Stefanie ended with a fitting sports analogy: “In order to play the game, you need to know the rules, build your skills, and show up to be successful.”