Dennis Potvin - Tennessee Democrat

Putting Civics back into our High Schools

What does our School Board do? What about our County Commissioners or City Council? How about our State Senators or Representatives? How many of each are there, and how often are they elected? What is the difference between our City Mayor and County Mayor? Why is every vote important? What is so important about Town Hall meetings?

If you couldn’t answer all of these questions, don’t feel bad – I couldn’t either, until I researched the subjects online. I believe that most adults would struggle to answer all of these questions, and part of the reason for this is that Civics has been replaced over the past few decades with other subjects in our high schools. Computer Science is an important subject, but not as important as it was thirty years ago, when the technology was new and the knowledge was foreign to students like myself. In today’s world, students use computer devices every day to perform their hobbies. They are exposed to computers at an early age, outside of school.

While high school students are given opportunities to take classes such as the foreign language of their choice, physical education, and advanced mathematics, they are not being forced to learn about our own local and state government. As a result, there is an entire generation of students who learn about US history, but don’t learn how our government operates today. They don’t learn why tax money is taken and what it funds. They don’t understand the structure of our own system. While developing advanced computer skills is important, I also believe that the subject of Civics is of equal importance. It deserves to be taught for at least one full year in each of our students’ high school careers.

The Oscar-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss has launched the Dreyfuss Initiative to address the subject of reintroducing Civics in our schools. I wholeheartedly support his initiative. We need the next generation of voters to be educated.

© 2017 Dennis Potvin
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