Tuesday, May 28, 2019
In 2017, the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania released their traditional survey on American civics knowledge for Constitution Day. Out of just over one thousand respondents, 37 percent were unable to name a single right protected by the First Amendment. Nearly four hundred adults were unable to recall religion, speech, press, assembly, or petition. Out of those that were able to name specific rights protected by the First Amendment, the ability to name all five was limited.
Our decline in civics knowledge does not begin when we cross the arbitrary line from childhood to adulthood, but rather in childhood itself from a general lack of education on the topic. Putting it in incredibly distressing terms in 2011, Charlies Quigley of the Center for Civics Education pointed out that,
only 4 percent of all 12th graders … (are at) a level we would hope our future leaders would attain.
Out of all fifty states, forty offer civics as a subject, but only 29 offer a “full curriculum,” which “includes course materials that cover ‘Explanation/Comparison of Democracy,’ ‘Constitution and Bill of Rights,’ and ‘Public Participation,’ as well as information on state and local voting laws.” As such, the responsibility of preserving liberty through the next generation falls to us.
Introducing Liberty to Children
In a previous article, I told a story regarding my own experience as a teenager in which I was stopped and questioned with a voluntary search. I cooperated fully. Following the incident, I was lectured by my mother on the importance of asserting my rights when confronted by the authorities.
By ensuring that our children begin learning these ideas early on we impart the protection of the law, strength, and responsibility.
While opinion was split among readers as to whether or not my mother was correct in giving me such a civics lesson in the car, most readers seemed consistent in their surprise that, at sixteen, I did not know the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments. I did not know the laws that were intended to protect me from overreaching authority. I was a distressing statistic….Read More