Improving civic education could involve future voters / Public information service

2022 is a great election year, but becoming a more informed voter begins before people are eligible to vote, with civic education.

Although Montana has its own civic education standards, it is not among three-quarters of states that require it for students to graduate from high school, according to the Center for American Progress.

Dr. Khalilah Harris is the executive director of K-12 education policy at the center. She said young people in the United States are less politically engaged than in other parts of the world.

Civics education, said Harris, is essential when it comes to making sure that people understand how their vote works and what role they can play in doing things like running for municipal office or being part of. their school board ”.

Montana Superintendent of Public Education Elsie Arntzen updated the state’s social studies standards in 2021, noting past standards have fallen short of increasing patriotism and the promotion of service.

Harris said she believes it is more important to think critically about the country and its policies. She said there are several ways to encourage better civic education.

“People like to be recognized when they do a good job,” said Harris. “It is therefore important to find ways to encourage evidence that our children are receiving a quality and substantial civic education, but that they are also involved in the civic life of their schools. “

She noted that communities in states like Maryland allow young people to get involved in municipal elections from the age of 16.

Civics education was in the spotlight in 2021 due to critical race theory. The foundation of the theory is that systemic racism continues to exist in the United States and impacts the opportunities and treatment of people of color.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen called the theory discriminatory and said his teaching violated federal and state laws. But Harris said the discussion distracted important conversations about civic education.

“It’s not something that, necessarily, facilitates a deeper dive into civic education,” Harris said. “Although there are stakeholders and organizations that are really focused on improving civic education in this country. Beyond that, it’s a distraction.”

The Carnegie Corporation of New York supported this report.

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