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Host: Scott LaMar

Civic Education

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, WITF's Smart Talk | Jan 3, 2018 8:00 PM
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On the Thursday January 4th, 2018 edition of WITF's Smart Talk:

According to a 2016 survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, 26% of Americans couldn't name the three branches of government.   Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Center, says "Lack of basic civics knowledge is worrisome and an argument for an increased focus on civics education in the schools."

Unfortunately, we often hear stories about Americans' lack of civic knowledge -- whether it be history or how government works. 

The 19th-centruy educator Horace Mann wrote "A republican form of government, without intelligence in the people, must be, on a vast scale, what a mad-house, without superintendent or keepers, would be on a small one."  An effective, democratic and fully-representative government is only sustainable by an educated and knowledgeable electorate.

On Thursday's Smart Talk, we discuss the role educators play in cultivating politically engaged citizens with the Honorable Marjorie Rendell, President of the Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement.  David Trevaskis, Pro Bono Coordinator with the Pennsylvania Bar Association, will discuss the association's efforts to connect students with civic outreach and engagement and we'll be joined by Zara Ward, Student School Board Representative for McCaskey High School who can share what the value of civic education to her.

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Zara Ward, Student School Board Representative for McCaskey High School / Honorable Marjorie Rendell, President of the Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement / David Trevaskis, Pro Bono Coordinator with the Pennsylvania Bar Association

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- It is also a parental responsibility.  We took my son with us to vote from the first primary after he was born until he voted on his own.  He was familiar with the procedure.  He has not miss an election from age 18 to his current 31.   - JuliAnn

- I would argue for a transformation of PA schools such that their purpose is to foster literacies (as opposed to teaching subjects): for example, scientific literacy, media literacy, quantitative literacy and, of course, civic literacy. The system should be aiming to graduate students who are "civic literate" rather than graduating students who "took civics." As another example, knowing that someone studied media is much less meaningful than being able to say that person is media literate.                                                                - Becky, Carlisle

I was teaching a section on privacy to a senior level college class a couple of years ago.  I asked when the US Constitution was ratified.  After a minute or two one student said 1776.  After waiting several more minutes for an answer, I pointed out that that was when we declared independence and we were not yet a nation.  Therefore, we wouldn't likely have a constitution.  I never did get the correct answer.

I find it nearly impossible to believe that we are teaching the civics content that I learned in the public schools.                                                       - Phil

Pennsylvania League of Women Voters 2018 High School Video Contest: What Makes Democracy Work?          https://www.palwv.org/events/videocontest/

    

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