A Civics Amendment

Unless you’re a fan of the Constitutional Revision Commission and all things chartered, you likely have issues with the CRC’s Amendment 8. Lost in the controversial legal weeds of that misleadingly-bundled Amendment proposal is the relatively ignored component that would require civics to be taught in the schools. Civics, however, can’t be an Amendment afterthought; nor can it be an inducement to get voters to go along with charter school schemes.

This should stand on its own. It’s that critical.

But this can’t be old-school civics, with a focus on knowing the difference between senators and representatives and what the definition of the Electoral College is. No, this would have to be a re-worked hybrid.

One part should pragmatically focus, for example, on subjects such as how local, state and federal governments actually work in the real world; what constitutes voter eligibility; what the implications of gerrymandering are; and what the consequences are of not voting or not being familiar enough with issues and candidates to cast an informed vote.

The other part is the role of media–social to mainstream–in this contemporary American democracy with its evolving technology and demographics. An understanding of media and how it can inform as well as manipulate is necessary to prepare 21st century young Americans to meaningfully participate in their self-government. If the cyberattacked election of 2016 is to be a teachable moment, we have to teach and promote media awareness and savvy in our schools. Outsourcing ideology and cherry-picking media that validates is counterproductive if the goal is retaining a viable democracy.

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