Civics Education Increases Political Awareness of Our Nation’s Youth

Abby Malzewski, Staff Writer

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Our country is now more polarized than ever through our political parties, Democrats and Republicans. Due to a variety of news sources feeding different information to the American people, politics are becoming more hostile. Through all the different opinions and solutions, one blaring fact about Americans remains true: American people don’t know that much about politics. In general, Americans lack a basic understanding of the contents of our nation’s founding document, the Constitution. According to The Washington Post, an astounding 39% of polled Americans incorrectly believed that the Constitution gave the president power to declare war and 33% could not name a single branch of government. A lack of basic understanding of the Constitution and politics is worrisome because it leads to uninformed voters.

Seattle Prep and many other schools around the nation are tackling this issue of an uninformed republic by focusing on our nation’s youth. Schools are now implementing civics education courses. Seattle Prep currently offers a United States Government (Gov.) class and an AP U.S. Government and Politics (AP Gov.) class for seniors to take.

At the beginning of the year, AP Gov. students read an article by Sandra Day O’Connor entitled How to Reboot Civics Education. The article discusses different ways civics education can be found in schools, such as through utilizing technology. Schools are using technology to engage more students in politics and make the material more accessible. From this article, students understand the importance of what they will be learning throughout the year, as it will help them communicate effectively and ask critical questions in the real world. AP Gov. student Amber Richards ’19 took from the article that “when we reach the voting age it is essential that us students are well-versed in the ways in which laws are made and what values each party represents.” Alyssa Sutanto ’19, another AP Gov. student says, “it is important to understand what we can do as citizens to make our values and beliefs heard.”

When asked how she thought civic education could be improved, Richards said, “I think civics education should be required for all students, be a yearly class, and start in elementary school. It should be a separate curriculum than English or history, as well.” Sutanto thinks civic education could be improved at Seattle Prep by “making classes more accessible to students of all grades and required at some point during a student’s career at Prep.” Through taking a AP Gov. this year, Sutanto shares that she has learned about “the media’s impact on politics” and Richards has learned about “how politics have changed and evolved since the foundation of our country.”

Civics education is important in creating a well-informed republic in America and beginning a new chapter of civics education with our nation’s youth is a large step in the right direction. Through learning more about politics, young people are now understanding how important it is to exercise one’s civic duty and go out and vote.

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