<< The Body Politic

Citizenship round-up

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Here are some recent happenings in the citizenship world:

  • A new CIRCLE study reveals that knowledge about voter laws is still lacking among young Americans: “In our October national poll of young adults, we asked respondents about photo identification requirements, early voting opportunities, and voter registration deadlines.  More than forty percent answered they were “unsure”  to each question about these laws.  For instance, 41.7% said they didn’t know what the photo ID requirements were in their state. This was down slightly from the 44.2% who weren’t sure when polled in the summer. While 43.3% didn’t know what the early voting options were in their states, this was a definite change from the 51.6% who were unsure in the summer.  In the summer, 61.0% of respondents were unsure whether they needed to register 30 days or more before the election.  In this poll, only 40.4% didn’t know.   Across the board, likely voters were more than twice as likely to choose an answer to each of the voter law questions than unlikely voters.  They were also more likely to be correct.”
  • From the Education Gadfly: “U.S. Civics education is lacking…but at least we’re not France.” “France’s president plans to ban homework, citing the disadvantage it poses for students without a supportive home environment to aid their after-school studies. […] Speaking of curriculum narrowing, civics education is wanting, according to a new report from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Almost a dozen states don’t require any civics or American-government education, and states are increasingly cutting the essay portions of the civics state tests that do exist, a trend that Americans should address this election year before civic literacy declines any further.”
  • Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor writes in the San Francisco Chronicle that it’s “time to restore civic learning”: “The reason we established public schools was to educate our diverse population about the system of government our early leaders had established. As a result, free public education was adopted in every state. That is why 40 state constitutions cite the importance of civic literacy among students, and 13 point to civic education as the primary purpose of schools. […] There is no better time than now, as an election pushes citizenship and participation front and center in our nation’s dialogue, to recommit ourselves to restoring civic learning and to recognize that civics is essential to prepare our young people for success in our democracy and the global marketplace.”