There has been a recent development in Pennsylvania education, which is both exciting and intimidating for myself as a History Teacher.
H.B. 564 is a bill that mandates schools to test students by the end of their 12th grade for civics knowledge. Pennsylvania now joins 8 other states in testing students on civics. The idea that only 9 states have education focused on government is a frightening one. We as a nation have seen a sense of disenfranchisement across the board. Articles from 2016-2018, newspapers from the Guardian to Marketplace, all talk about the United States losing voters. From my perspective, as an educator, this issue stems from a lack of basic historical, governmental, and cultural understanding in the United States.
Before I continue, I cannot stress enough that I appreciate and believe that government funding for STEAM and English is incredibly important to a well-informed society. We also need to support foreign languages, travel, music, and physical education. Wood shop and metals class, as well, have been decimated since the 2009 market crash, and teachers across the country have taken a pay hit. On average, they earn less than their 2009 salaries.
However, this blog is not about all that; it’s about history.
When a government holds up its history, and takes an honest look at the positives and negatives, it becomes a stronger nation. When the systems of government are understood by the masses, change can truly happen. People utilize and become more involved in their local communities. Studies like the 1999 Civics Education Study have provided information that the more students are open to talk about social and cultural changes, the more involved they feel in their local community. Mandating a space for these discussions is the beginning of a powerful change.
As much as I appreciate the passage of this bill, we still have more work to do. Schools need to make sure these discussions are not happening to pass a test, but to stand the test of time. Students should feel responsible for their community, and public education is the best way to accomplish that goal. We must continue to support candidates and future generation to become involved in the political process.
I joined Philly Set Go as a teachable moment for my students. Instead of talking about Political Action Committees, or political advocacy, I am able to explain to them how it works by being a part of it. We as a generation must continue to support, discuss and mentor these future voters. We can thank our elected officials that supported this bill through PACs like Philly Set Go or by calling and thanking them for this first step.
Millennials could be the most altruistic American generation by fighting for our future, not just our present state of mind, and by asking more from the American voting public, rather than just being engaged in elections every 4 years.
You can help make a difference. Support our Crowdpac campaign and help us mobilize millennial voters for #BetterPolitics.