Despite continuing complaints about government, voting appears to have lost its appeal, resulting in a resurgence of civics classes for students in some districts.
The results of a yearlong state study of civic learning in California highlighted som red flags that need attention to all levels of civics education, and recommended that updated lessons be taught in every grade. The recommendations were drafted by the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning. ONe of the members who helped write the draft was Modesto City Schools board President Cindy Marks.
The final report of the task force was issued recently during a daylong session of making recommendations and drafting action plans.
“We accomplished a lot in a year,” said Marks, who was chairwoman of the business and community subgroup. She took the post representing the California School Boards Association, and said she has a passion for the subject.
“Students need to understand, how does your government work?” she said. “And if something is not working, how do you, as a student, change that? How can you solve problems with your civic leaders? How can you be part of the solution? Part of that is helping students understand their rights and responsibilities as a voter, and as a juror, as a witness.”
The goals of good citizenship extend from students believing they have a voice to seek changes at their school, to adults being able to effectively govern.
“We’ve really lost the ability to have civil debates, to be able to conquer difficult problems together, to find a way to have those difficult discussions and find those solutions together,” Marks said.
“That was what our founding forefathers were extremely adept at. They had to listen to all sides because that’s how you make it last. You build support, and when you have support, it will succeed.”
The report notes the United States ranks 139th in voter participation out of 172 democracies around the world.