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Restoring Civics in Higher Education
AEI
2024.04.18
Few could deny that the US has a big problem when it comes to its citizens’ civic knowledge. This is no longer just a question for educators or a matter of ever-declining test scores. In today’s world, failures that begin in the schoolhouse do not stay there but spread to society at large. The stakes go to the heart of what we are. Our failures raise the question of whether we are still capable of sustaining a republican form of government.
The firm possession of civic knowledge, including knowledge of the institutions of American government and the history through which those institutions have traveled, is essential for any free and self-governing people. Any education worthy of the name should introduce the young to the whole of their political and cultural inheritance as Americans, enabling them to become literate and conversant in its many features and to take full advantage of all it has to offer them, both its privileges and its responsibilities. It should let them gain the common treasure of its cultural life. It should usher them into membership in a rich common world and a fuller and more capacious identity as American citizens.