The Need for Civics Education Reform in the United States.
The lack of adequate civics instruction in United States? schools has led to a decrease in the knowledge, and interest, of the nation's youth in government and the political process. Not enough time and energy is put into civics education. Students are receiving little instruction in civics and government, and for some, no instruction at all. This is evident in recent studies done to rate US students? knowledge of these issues. It is also evident in the lack of interest and participation in politics and governmental issues. Schools need to do something immediately to correct this problem, and offer sufficient civics instruction that will mold and influence the young citizens of America. The recent tragedies our nation endured have put civics education goals into action. President Bush recently outlined a new plan toimprove students' knowledge of American history, increase their civic involvement, and deepen their love for our great country.? The plan has two parts: the first entitledWe the People,? and the second entitledOur Documents.? (Bush speech, Sept. 17, 2002) Aside from this plan, there is more that can be done by teachers and schools to increase civil awareness such as encouraging critical thinking through activities, teaching students to understand other points of view, and linking service learning to political action. (Vail, March 2002, p. 15-17) These actions, along with Bush's plan for a more rigorous civics curriculum, will surely help make students more aware of their country and their roles as citizens.
Recent studies done by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) of students? and civics and government knowledge have found that about two thirds of the fourth, eighth and twelfth grade students that were tested achieved at abasic level.? A little over twenty percent in each grade scored at theproficient? level, and only two percent of fourth and eighth graders and four percent of twelfth graders achieved at anadvanced? level.