Fordham Foundation’s Robert Pondiscio recently stated, “The more educated you are, the more likely you are to be civically engaged.” This is an inspiring notion, as the nation has boosted a trend, whereby they’ve encouraged youth toward higher education. The hope is that their matriculation translates to them becoming more civically-involved young people.
Nonetheless, a crisis in civic education among college students was reported by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) in early 2016. The report, A Crisis in Civic Education, concluded that a failure in civic literacy has impacted overall civic understanding. ACTA’s survey concluded that nearly 40 percent of college graduates were unaware that Congress has the power to declare war. Additionally, almost half had no clue as to term lengths of congressional members. Also, an unfortunate 10 percent seemed to believe that Judith Sheindlin of “Judge Judy” fame was on the Supreme Court.
During the fall of 2017, approximately 50.7 million students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools. Also during the fall, 20.4 million students enrolled in undergraduate programs at American colleges and university, which is a 25 percent increase over fall 2000. The numbers are promising. More so, if acknowledging the difficulties that plague this nation’s education system, as well as the financial, educational, cultural, and environmental challenges experienced by this nation’s students. The fact that nearly 70 percent of high school students (69.2 percent) immediately enrolled in college after completion doesn’t merely mean they’ll be higher earners; it means that they’ll have further opportunity to gain an improved understanding of the importance of civic education.
“Our country depends upon an educated populace; and while civic activity and service learning are important, they simply cannot substitute for substantive learning about our history and government,” said ACTA President Anne D. Neal. “It’s time that colleges and universities replace their anything-goes approach to the curriculum with specific subject-matter requirements that will empower America’s next generation of leaders.”
The research passionately concluded that requirements and comprehensive curricular changes are needed to encourage students toward thoughtful citizenship. They recommend that at least one broad-based course on government and history should receive a great deal of focus, which would ensure civic liberty and “empowered participation in the nation’s civic process.”
If you have additional thoughts on civic education or the research conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, please reach out with questions.