Civics Education and Hope for the Future

January 2, 2020 Updated: January 5, 2020
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Commentary

In his year-end report, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts noted something wrong with many of America’s schools, writing, “We have come to take democracy for granted, and civic education has fallen by the wayside.”

“In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public’s need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital,” he said.

Roberts’s concerns don’t seem overstated considering recent polling data shows that 36 percent of millennials say they approve of communism and 70 percent of millennials say they are “likely” to vote for a socialist candidate.

“The historical amnesia about the dangers of communism and socialism is on full display in this year’s report,” said Marion Smith, executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, commenting on the poll, which was commissioned by his organization.

“When we don’t educate our youngest generations about the historical truth of 100 million victims murdered at the hands of communist regimes over the past century, we shouldn’t be surprised at their willingness to embrace Marxist ideas.”

In response to this crisis in our schools, one young man has launched an initiative aimed at making civics a part of regular education in every state in the nation.

CJ Pearson, 17, is the founder of Last Hope USA, a student-led nonprofit whose stated mission is “to ensure the preservation of America’s founding ideals through the promotion of civic education and civic participation to America’s next generation.”

“Not only we will seek to develop student-led chapters within high schools and colleges across the country, but we will also advocate for legislation that will make it a requirement for students to pass a basic citizenship test before receiving their high school diploma,” Pearson said in an interview.

“No student should graduate high school without a fundamental understanding of the ideals upon which this nation was built.”

Although the initiative was just recently founded, Last Hope USA has already raised more than $12,000, according to its website.

“It’s been so humbling to see the amount of support that we’ve been met with—not only for myself but for the hundreds of student activists affiliated with our organization as well,” he said.

Pearson also said that indoctrination into progressive political ideology is “pervasive” in American schools, from the content of their class assignments “to the subject of their teachers’ lectures.”

Others across the nation are also stepping up efforts to better educate American children. Last month, the state of Rhode Island was sued by a group of 14 students who argued that their constitutional rights are being violated by being denied a civics education.

If we pivot to the Sunshine State, we find that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently announced that high school seniors will now be required to pass a civics test in order to graduate. Currently, only nine states and the District of Columbia require a civics education.

“What I hope to see is a more informed and engaged generation of future leaders,” Pearson said. “The only way that we can make America great again is by reminding America’s young people about the values and ideals that made and make great in the first place. That starts and ends with civics education.”

Pearson also tied his movement to a larger culture war that’s taking place within the United States.

“The most important fights that lie ahead for conservatives are cultural ones, not just political ones. For far too long, we’ve allowed the left to dominate the culture war—to overtake our schools, our radios, and our theaters. It’s time for us to fight back—with everything we’ve got. The type of America that my peers and I will inherit is dependent on it.”

Adrian Norman is a writer and political commentator.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.