MoJo: The Tea Party Wants to Teach Your Kids About the Constitution
So, does your institution commemorate “Constitution Week” in any way since Senator Byrd was able to pass a law requiring it? (Is that even constitutional?) At my institution we do have a ceremony every year. Typically, we honor the Constitution by asking a speaker to come and discuss a relevant constitutional issue. For instance, last fall, we had a speaker come and discuss the implications of Arizona’s Immigration law. Previously, we’ve had political cartoonist Mike Luckovich speak about 1st Amendment issues. I very much enjoy this annual chance to stop and reflect on the meaning of the Constitution today. Certainly, as a political scientist, I place a great deal of importance on emphasizing civic education, but can we mandate such behavior? Is it meaningful to force feed democracy to unmotivated citizens? Are their ways to make disengaged and disenfranchised citizens care more about the political process?
That being said, isn’t there some politically active group out there rallying under the slogan “Don’t Tread On Me!” that would surely want to stop any such state sponsored indoctrination? Man, we should figure out who that group is and let them know about this so they can stop it…right?
NAEP – Civics 2010: Summary of Major Findings
NY Times Article
Looking at the NAEP results, the 12th grade trend is quite disconcerting! This speaks to the types of students we see in our classrooms as well as to our mission as Political Scientists at Two-Year Colleges.
This quote form the NY Times says it all:
“At the same time, three-quarters of high school seniors who took the test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, were unable to demonstrate skills like identifying the effect of United States foreign policy on other nations or naming a power granted to Congress by the Constitution.”
Low turnout, the diterioration of public debate, inadequate government response to real problems, these are all symptoms of a people that has forgotten they are a “society” – interconnected in numerous ways. These symptoms threaten the persistence of this great nation!
Benjamin Rush said:
“There is but one method of rendering a republican form of government durable, and that is by disseminating the seeds of virtue and knowledge through every part of the state by means of proper places and modes of education and this can be done effectively only by the aid of the legislature.”
It is part of our duty as political scientists to overcome this deficit of knowledge and civic engagement! How do you inspire and engage your students?