2019 Civics Photo 1 Getty
What Americans have said

What parents said: Should students study civics?

In addition to the traditional PDK poll of Americans, PDK convened online focus groups with public school parents and public school teachers, thanks to funding support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. These comments are drawn from those two groups.

This is a touchy subject area. I think civics -- citizenship, democracy, the role of the government -- are all good subjects to teach. It would take the right kind of teacher to do this. They can't introduce their biases in the teaching of these subjects, and, yes, they should be a required class. Learning the proper way to challenge authority and protest are valuable lessons for our youth.

Frederick, 71, Black grandfather and guardian for his grandson in urban Massachusetts

Heck yes, patriotism should be taught in our schools. The Pledge of Allegiance should be done every morning and everyone should stand every afternoon when the flag is lowered. Every child in our public school system is an American citizen or wants to be an American citizen and should be respectful of our customs. Am I opposed to allowing other customs be taught in our classrooms? Actually, I'm not. It's good for our students to know about other cultures and customs, but, first and foremost, we are Americans and that should be what drives us.

Sandy, 54, White mother of one in urban Missouri

Patriotism and pride in your country is very important and should be taught and encouraged. Unfortunately, in this day and age, that has been perverted to a fanaticism about our country being the best and everyone else being worthless, and that needs to stop!

Albert, 49, Asian father of two sons in suburban California

Civics should be required. People who are more educated about the world outside of their bubble are more open-minded. To teach our children other cultures, religions, rituals, and traditions is giving them the gift of understanding, inclusion, and acceptance. It is of utmost importance to teach our kids about government, how it should be operated, and how to have their voices heard (including public protest). We have to give them the tools to understand how to make change because, as generations and societies change, the people in government who represent us must also reflect those changes.

Lindsey, 41, mixed-race mother of five in Oregon suburb

Our history should no longer be whitewashed. We need to teach the truth even though our history was ugly at times. From those lessons, we can grow and understand today’s society and U.S. culture and make sure we don’t repeat those mistakes. Teaching students to make their own decisions after they've learned the facts is definitely appropriate.

Autumn, 39, White mother of three elementary school students in suburban Michigan

I don't want my child attending a school where they're told America is the best and never does anything wrong because that simply isn't true. But teaching students to be proud of being an American and ways they can honor their country or support their fellow Americans is important.

Robin, 49, White mother of a high school student in urban Pennsylvania

Challenging authority and public protest should be saved for college classes and not be taught in high school. I don't feel some minds are developed enough to handle these types of subjects.

Cheryl, 53, White mother of seven in urban Washington

The school system should be teaching our kids about how our government works. I know it's touched on a bit in high school, but it should be required at all levels. Here I am in my 50s, and I still don't really know how our government works. I'd like to see my son and future "adults" have the knowledge to make it all work as it should.

Cheryl, 53, White mother of seven in urban Washington

Students should learn the basics, but public schools should not sway students to feel a certain way about our government. Teaching our children about their rights as a U.S. citizen is key to me. The idea of a roundtable discussion for those hard-hitting issues (allowing the students to voice their concerns and opinions) would help in dealing with things like public protest and authority. I want our kids to be able to understand the real-world consequences for looting, property damage, and criminal activity but not scare them into submission, either.

Kathryn, 36, White mother of two elementary school students in urban North Carolina

Citizenship, democracy, and the role of government should always be taught in our schools. You can’t have an idea of what it is to be a citizen, your rights and how government can impact your rights. So yes, they should be required classes.

Leon, 52, Black father of a middle schooler in urban Iowa

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