Week In Review 12-13-2019

Most students today can't distinguish advertisements from news articles, fake news from actual news, or content posted by partisan groups from content posted by unbiased sources, according to findings from a recent study conducted by Stanford University's Graduate School of Education.

This, coupled with this week's news that 2/3 of our nation's students are not good readers, raises concerns for our nation's future and implications at the ballot box.

Today's students will eventually elect the leaders of our country. Those men and women will craft public policy and make decisions that will effect their lives for years to come. The elected officials will be responsible for protecting their rights as well.

If our students are not proficient in reading, writing and critical thinking skills, then how can they be expected to make informed decisions when they are engaged in the electoral process? 

Education experts have been denouncing the decline in education standards in the U.S. for years. Numerous attempts at the federal and state levels to address the issue have fallen short. But now it is a real crisis that will impact our government and ultimately our democracy.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center's Civics Knowledge Survey found only 2 in 5 American adults - or 39 percent - could correctly name the three branches of government. Many couldn't name any. Just one in three Americans could even pass the U.S. citizenship test. The national pass rates for immigrants is 90 percent.

"The resilience of our system of government is best protected by an informed citizenry. And civics education and attention to news increase that likelihood," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Center.

In the 2018 midterm election, more than 53 percent of eligible voters participated. But among eligible voters who have not completed high school, participation was below 28 percent. For voters with bachelors and advanced degrees, turnout was much higher.

Clearly there is a link between education and voter participation. We must prepare our students to be responsible citizens. This means ensuring they are proficient in reading as well as civics. As adults, we can continue to remain educated and stay informed with JAC. There is too much at stake to do otherwise.

Voting matters. Elections matter.

Source: Annenberg Public Policy Center