There was an interesting piece by Tom Womack featured in last week’s edition of Arkansas Business. Womack, the brand new president of the Arkansas Bar Association, focused on the lack of civics education in America’s public schools today.
He offered this shocking quote from former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor:
Today, at least half of the states don’t even require high school students to take civics; only three states require it in middle school.
Also mentioned in the piece: the National Center for Education Statistics recently found that only 27 percent of high school seniors were proficient in government and civics.
Womack continued, stressing the importance of educational reforms in order to preserve our nation’s fabric.
America’s future as a democracy depends on our understanding of constitutional self-government, the independence of our legal institutions and our commitment to justice.
The article concludes by listing some initiatives that the Bar Association is undertaking, including the publication of “18 and Life to Go: A Legal Handbook for Young Arkansans” with the goal of providing every Arkansas high school senior a copy. They have also implemented a statewide mock trial competition & working to put lawyers in classrooms, educating students about good government & the role of the judiciary.
Interestingly, Arkansas law does require civics education, which apparently makes us fairly unique:
Code Ark. R. 005 19 007: Standards for Accreditation of Arkansas Public Schools: Grades K-8 curriculum must include civic education. Accredited high schools must teach 1 unit of civics or civics/government every year. One-half credit civics or government required for graduation.
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