2019 Civics Photo 2 Getty
What Americans have said

What teachers 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.

Civics should be mandatory. If students don't know the basics about the society in which they live, how can we expect them to be good citizens? If the classes get into deep discussion on certain topics all the better, that will give the students a great learning opportunity to learn how to listen to others views and be tolerant of others. I don't see any harm in deep controversial discussions so long as the teacher remains neutral and doesn't bias the students to the teacher's view.

Jean, 60, mixed-race high school teacher in suburban Delaware

Students need to learn the foundations of our country and good citizenship. As citizens, students should at least know their Constitutional rights and responsibilities. Students need to learn the tenets of peaceful protest and legally stating their grievances.

Colleen, 41, Black high school teacher in suburban Georgia

I support the teaching of challenging authority and the power of peaceful protesting. Students need to empower themselves and know their rights, both as students and citizens.

Deborah, 53, White high school life skills teacher in suburban Missouri

Teaching civics, democracy, and the role of government in society is absolutely necessary for schools. There needs to be a place that allows healthy and safe discussion around politics and religion that begins in middle school and develops further in high school. It's important to have disagreements and learn how to respectfully share and listen to each other's views. This can create stronger communities and allow for understanding between people with differing views, creating a pathway to adulthood where people can healthily learn to disagree, argue, and compromise while still living harmoniously.

Anna, 27, Black early elementary teacher in urban Minnesota

Teaching civics is among our paramount duties. The idea of challenging authority is inherently American. While it should be taught in such a way to include all legitimate political points of view, we shouldn’t shy away from teaching students that if their government isn’t working for them, it’s our duty and birthright/burden as Americans to stand up and resist ideas that threaten our core values of tolerance, peace, acceptance, diversity, and inclusion.

Jed, 35, White middle school technology teacher in rural Washington

If students don't understand the purpose and role of government to society, then society would descend into mass chaos. Getting into challenging authority and the role of public protest would be a tricky subject to navigate, but I also believe knowledge is power. Our current students are our future so they need to get the knowledge.

Shawna, 43, Black kindergarten teacher in urban Maryland

Why would we not teach students their rights? Everyone should know how their government works. I don't feel that it’s opening a can of worms. Rather, it’s opening up the eyes and minds of our youth and hopefully they can be part of the force that changes what is not just in our government and society.

Jennifer, 35, Hispanic kindergarten teacher in rural New Jersey

We need to teach and encourage patriotism. I teach in a school full of immigrants. I feel it's necessary to teach them about where they are living now. I am all for diversity, but I tell them that you are no longer in your country. You decided to live here, now learn the culture, but don't lose your individuality or heritage.

Julio, 47, Hispanic upper elementary teacher in urban Arizona

I do not like the idea of teaching patriotism as I believe that would be akin to indoctrination. Students should be presented with different value systems and opinions in the most objective way possible and then form their own opinions later.

Tim, 50, White middle school special education teacher in suburban Virginia

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