Letters: How should we teach civics?

Johnson City Press • Jul 14, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Our Question of the Week asked readers how they believe civics should be taught to our state’s children. Here are some of the responses we received.

Properly fund social studies

It is “self-evident” in a democratic country that students should be taught the historical facts regarding the development and structure of our governmental systems. However, students should also learn the application of civic duties, consequences for practicing civic rights, and how the wealthy lobby Congress and state legislatures more effectively than the citizenry in most cases. It should be taught that a democratic United States of America cannot survive without civics education.

Teaching civics is one small part of the recipe for students to actively and effectively engage in the democratic process. Teaching civics curriculum is an exercise that takes dear sweet time to successfully accomplish. Requiring citizens to pass a citizenship test is a selfish attempt for Tennessee lawmakers to feel good about themselves, I suppose. The level of testing that takes place in Tennessee is a farce anyway. It does not advance students’ education nor accurately predict success.

The citizenship test does not cure Washington County School’s financial woes. A social studies teaching position was eliminated at David Crockett High School sometime this summer. I have already informed the county commission that the social studies departments at both Daniel Boone and David Crockett have tattered, 6 year old textbooks. DCHS only has 6 social studies teachers to serve more than 1,200 students. The DCHS math department boast 12 teachers, the latest technology, and newer textbooks. Civics education is hardly a priority for the Tennessee legislature or our local government.

As a lesson to students, this letter is practice of my First Amendment rights. It is also my obligation to provide the best possible learning environment for students. However, there are potential consequences from my employer, Washington County Schools, for expressing my opinions and listing the facts exposing the truth regarding a topic of great political import: CIVICS EDUCATION!

Johnson City

Teach American exceptionalism

First off, thank you General Assembly. Civics is important and holds us together.

Start at the beginning with teaching about the political world before the Constitution and why our Constitution was such a disrupter world wide. Help them really understand the reality of what Monarchism, Socialism, Communism, Dictatorships, etc. is, compared to the freedom our form of government brings us. Why our founders are honored for their work, often risking their lives, to build this country.

We need to ensure the constitutional limitations and responsibilities of each branch are really understood. They need to realize the difference between a country governed with the mindset that you have to buy our product or you will be taxed is not what we are.

Teach that we should be able to voice a wide difference of opinions peacefully and smartly. Lately, however the hate towards some people has resulted in an environment where it is no longer safe for some to share opinions without fear of being beaten or nearly killed for being a reporter documenting an event.

They also need to be taught to think long-term. Yes, free college, free health care, and $1,000 a month would be great things, but have our young people asked themselves who, in 5 or 10 years are going to be paying for this through sky high taxes? Do the 2/3 of the high school graduates who will not attend college want to pay excessive taxes so the 1/3 who go to college can have a free ride?

We need to remember that long term, freedom and liberty and independence is much better that the mess many want to transform us into. Yes, it takes more work on the front end, but it brings us more joy throughout our lives.


Want to have your voice heard? Send a Letter to the Forum. Authors must sign their letters and include addresses and phone numbers for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length. Send your submission to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or [email protected].

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