“The more I read and the more I listen, the more apparent it is that our society suffers from an alarming degree of public ignorance,” said former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Two-thirds of Americans cannot name a single Supreme Court justice, former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor told the crowd that packed into a Boise State ballroom to hear her Thursday. About one-third can name the three branches of government. Fewer than one-fifth of high school seniors can explain how citizen participation benefits democracy.
But get this: “Less than one-third of eighth-graders can identify the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence, and it’s right there in the name,” she said.
Today is primary election day in Toledo. How many citizens do you guess will show at the polls today? The mayorship and city council of Toledo are on the ballot. Do our citizens care? Do they know what a primary is? Do they even know that today is election day?
“The more I read and the more I listen, the more apparent it is that our society suffers from an alarming degree of public ignorance,” O’Connor said.
That ignorance starts in the earliest years of a child’s schooling, she said, but often continues all the way through college and graduate school.
O’Connor argued that learning about citizenship is just as important for American children as learning multiplication or how to write their names.
Apparently, public schools do not regard civics on the same level as mathematics and reading. There are no proficiency tests of civics through grades 1-5.
To combat what she sees as a dangerous lack of civics in schools, O’Connor founded icivics.org
, a website for educators and students. The site uses games, lesson plans and activities to make learning about government and citizenship less boring.
Boring? Boring is in the hands of the educator. Interestingly yesterday on Facebook my daughter attended an open house at her son’s high school. One of his teachers reminded her of a chemistry teacher she had- one that she and many of those who commented labeled ‘very boring.’ To address Justice O’Connor’s issue, why, with all of the technology and resources available to teachers today could a teacher these days be labeled boring? Perhaps they are too set in their ways? Too old? Too lazy?
Whatever, Ms. O’Connor has a very valid point.