tv Education Civic Engagement CSPAN February 21, 2018 9:53pm-11:28pm EST
maryland, which solidified the government to take action not explicitly in the constitution and restricted state action power. the use of its explore this case with a university of virginia associate of law professor power. . watch landmark cases live monday at 9:00 eastern on c-span, c-span.org, or listen with the free c-span radio app. order the landmark cases companion book, available for 8. 95 plus shipping and handling. there is a link on our website to the interactive constitution. conversation -- next, a conversation on civics education
>> good morning, everyone. i am that second of vice atsident of external affairs the center of american progress. on behalf of our great partners at generation citizen, i want to thank everyone of you for joining us for this important conversation. when we first planned this event a few weeks ago, we wanted to talk about the state of civic engagement among young people in our country. given the recent outcry and horrific acts at marjorie stoneman douglas high school in heartland and those that survived this choosing, and that our keynote speaker has deep ties to florida, i think today's discussion takes on a whole different meaning. now perhaps more than ever, our
government and its leaders must prove they are not only listening to our nation's young people, but they are doing everything in their power to ensure all students feel protected and valued in the eyes of our society. one small step in that process we we start toif engage more young people at an earlier age. right now, only nine states along with washington, d.c. require high school students to complete a full year of civics before they can graduate. this likely explains why, according to a recent study, of allss than 25% students achieve proficient scores in the civics exams administered by the national ofassessment of educational progress. importantly, america's civic engagement is at an all-time low.
voter participation and public trust in government remains near historic lows, particularly with our nation's young people. less than half of millennials are voting, and only 18% of the public trusts theirperhaps moren washington to do the right thing. this creates a vicious cycle where too many americans are dissatisfied with government, and yet still fail to vote, because they believe their voices will not be heard. the good news is across the country we can find inspiring activists, policymakers, educators, and others turning apathy into action. we are honored to welcome four outstanding panelists who are committed to motivating and we are honored toinsights.
first, i have the great privilege of using our keynote speaker today, senator bob graham. america's students. we look forward to their during his remarkable career as a public servant, senator graham made it his mission to make lifetime for folks in his home state of florida. he has served as a member of the florida legislature, as the 38th governor of the state of florida, and as member of the united states senate. while in office, senator graham helped to redefine the term civic engagement. as governor, he spent nearly 400 days working in a wide range of jobs, from police officer to construction worker, from fisherman to teacher, so he could better understand the challenges facing the people he represented. since leaving the senate, senator graham has devoted his energy toward a training the next generation of civic leaders. he has founded the bob graham
center for public service at university of florida to teach people the skills of democratic governance. joint opened the florida center citizenship to strengthen civics education in the sunshine state, and rally its legislature to require a civics education for all students. senator graham truly embodies what it means to be an agent of change at this local, state, and federal levels. we are so honored to could join us this morning to talk about -- he could join us this morning to talk about his experiences. please join me in a warm welcome for senator bob graham. please join me in>> [applause] thank you very much for that kind introduction.
thank you for the opportunity that the center has given me to talk about a thank you very much for that kind introduction. subject about which i am passionate, and which i believe the nation is beginning to recognize its central importance. depressed, -- first sad end by what occurred at stoneman douglas high school a week ago today. and abouted and life what the students -- and in life and about what the students have done in response to the tragedy. what interests me is for, like states,orida, like most stopped teaching civics in the 1960's. civics was restored by 2009,ative action in became operational in 2011. the significance of those numbers is this group of students who are now at stoneman douglas senior high school were the first wave of students in
haveda public education to civics in almost four decades. the fact they are now empowered to take the actions have we are se eing, and we hope we see actions that will result in change in the near future, i think is a testimony to the value of exposing young people to their rights, responsibilities, and competencies necessary to a member ofe as a democracy. we have a story within a story within a story occurring now. a tragic event might be one it takes to achieve a renewal -- what it takes to achieve a renewal to prepare all our
people, but particularly young people as citizens in a democracy. this is occurring at a time when there are plenty of headlines that indicate the severity of the current circumstance.. from the new yorker isaugust of last year, america headed for a new kind of civil war? a group of scholars were before charlottesville to discuss the issue of whether lee vs.was headed not a grant, but a new form of civil war. 35% of the participants in this program felt that we were, and it would be between 10 to 15 years.
david brooks in the new york times in january opined about how democracies perish. vox brought together 20 of america's top political scientists to discuss democracy. they were scared. if current trends continue for another 20 or 30 years, democracy will be toast. and then finally, from the boston globe, a toxic collection is damaging the seed corn of democracy, young voters. the statistics that support those headlines are equally distressing. most americans have little knowledge of national, state, or local government. a 2017 survey indicated only 26% of americans could name the three branches of government.
there is a declining acceptance --citizenship disposability citizenship responsibility. in 2016 u.s. voter turnout was 55.7%, which ranked us 28th among 35 developed, democratic countries in the world. local elections are even more distressing. between the beginning of this century and 10 years later, the number of persons in the 144 largest metropolitan areas of america who voted in local elections declined from 26% to 20%. between the beginning of this century and 10 years later, the in 2013, only 6.4% of americans in 2013, only 6.4% of americans belonged to an organization such as the league of women voters or
a pta that had a goal of a pta that had a goal of community action. younger voters are a particular, losing confidence in democracy. last year a survey indicated that 35% of millennials were losing faith in democracy and confidence in the democratic system as a means of governance and voter turnout in every presidential election since 2004, the lowest generational grouping have been millennials. in 2012, whereas, the oldest generation, over 65, 72% of americans voted, millennials were only 54%. -- millennials were only 46%. those all indicate the validity of concerns about the state of
our democracy as we begin the 21st century. why has thisour democracy as wee decline occurred? we are not alone. there has been a global movement away from democracy and towards authoritarianism. countries we used to think of as having moved past being emerging democracies to being mature democracies, such as turkey, have now slipped back to declin? authoritarian rule. i think we in america are legitimately concerned as to whether we may be on a similar path. why is this happening? i think one of the reasons the students in tallahassee today are living, is the question of, can democracy respond to the challenges of the day? we face this challenge throughout our history.
there have been times when, we have questioned whether the product democratic processes were capable of bringing solutions to complex problems. in most of those instances, democracy has met the challenge. today, it is being challenged again. i think the students are asking the question, can something as fundamental as providing safety for young people in their educational settings be assured? is a challenge for democratic institutions to be able to effectively answer? we await the determination as to whether that in fact occurs. i think one of the fundamental reasons we have reached this low state is the very fact we stopped teaching civics in the 1970's. why did we do that? well, some of the scholars of
democracy have attributed it to the fact that in that time, there was an increasing polarization in america, with the far left, thinking that civics education was being used to militarize students so they would be more accepting of the vietnam war. people on the far right, feeling that civic education was being used to motivate students to engage in activities such as the civil rights movement, women's right movement, other forms of public display which they found to be offensive. there was one thing left could -- there was one thing the extreme right and the extreme left could agree on, civics was not a good idea. they began leading an effort, first at the local level, then at state level, to eliminate civics. i graduated from miami senior
high school in 1955. i had taken three, one year courses in civics between the 7th and 12th grade. that was not unusual. that was in fact the national standard. i have 11 grandchildren. nine of whom have graduated from high school. most of those nine students have had no civics. the most any of them have had is one semester. that is what has happened in two generations of an american family. that is what has happened in two what do we do to begin to reverse this decline? let me share a personal story. in 1973, i was chairman of the florida state senate education committee. we were holding our hearings
before the legislative session in schools around florida and on this particular day, we were at wolfson high school. a middle-class, high school in jacksonville, florida. we had a slot in the agenda for students to come and talk about their concerns. on this particular day at wilson, there were a large number of students, all who had the same issue. probably one of the most long-standing issues in american public education -- bad food in the cafeteria. i was not surprised that the food was bad. it wasn't great at miami high. i was surprised they had come to the state senate to talk about cold pizza. i asked, were we the first people they talk to? they said no, you are the third. that made me feel better until i
asked, who were one and two? number one was the mayor of jacksonville. who empathized with the students, but said, it was not his responsibility. the second was the sheriff of duval county, who said the food was no doubt bad, but it was not criminal, it was not his responsibility. >> [laughter] >> we were number three. i told that story a few weeks later when i spoke to a group of civics teachers in miami, that something was wrong if a group of bright high school students, criminal, it was not his responsibility. >> [laughter] >> we were number three. i told that story a few weeks many of them about to graduate, had come to the conclusion that the mayor, the sheriff or the state legislature was the place you went for bad food. one of the teachers stood up and said, i am sick to death, sick to death of you politicians telling teachers how to do our work better when you don't know what in the hell you're talking about. the only way you can find out is
to actually go in the classroom and experience what it is like to be around in different students. to be around parents who won't show up for a parent-teacher conference. an overly bureaucratic school administration, and all those damn laws you legislators passed that we have to live by. she said the only way you can find out is to actually come in the classroom. i accepted her challenge, thinking that she had in mind a couple of hours on tuesday afternoon. when she called back, she had a somewhat different idea. she said, bob, come to carol city senior high school, almost almost inner-city high school in miami. on the day after labor day at 8:00 in the morning, report to room 208 and you will be teaching 12th grade american civics for the next 18 weeks. >> [laughter] >> that was a little more than i
had quite bargained for. i figured, i had committed myself, i was going to do it. i needed help. i found a young social science teacher in carol city who shared my ideas about how civics ought to be taught. he agreed to co-teach the class . we spent the summer building a -- some are working on a curriculum. the curriculum was built around the question, what does a citizen need to know to make democracy work for them? that is the course that we taught for 18 weeks. he agreed to co-teach the class it became a life transforming event. i not only learned a lot about life in a modern american high school, i learned a lot about learning.
the difference between learning by actually doing something as opposed to learning by lecture or textbook. i also learned some of that was transportable to other areas. i started taking workdays, the one in carol city was number one. i did another 407 over the next 30 years in order to feel that i had a connectedness and understanding with the people of my state. 30 years later, as i retired from the u.s. senate, i was a senior fellow at the kennedy school. i taught, as every fellow is required to do, although at harvard, you don't teach unless you are a member of the faculty, you can lead, direct, whatever verb you want to use, but you cannot teach.
i did one of those things, using a modified version of the same curriculum, what every citizen needs to know. that course, i found, the harvard undergraduates of the early part of this century were only mildly more cynically -- illiterate than the high school students i had taught 30 years earlier. some of the faculty at the kennedy school monitor the course and recommended i try to put the curriculum into book form. the result of that was a book called, "america: the owner's manual. you can fight city hall and win." the book is based around the 10 competencies of effective citizenship. following the harvard model, each chapter begins with a case
study of how citizens used that particular competence to achieve their objective. it describes how you can master that skill. i hope those are some of the things students from stoneman it describes how you can master douglas are doing that today in tallahassee. i believe from that experience, not only is it critical to return civics to the classroom, but it is also critical that it be returned in the right form. most of what is now civics is based on a study of the institutions and processes of government. i remember one of the things i had to do in one of those one year courses was memorize the state capitals of all 50 states. i still remember to this day the capital of south dakota is minneapolis. >> [laughter]
senator graham: i personally think jefferson would have been very disturbed with this. in his early writings on the importance of public education, to a new democracy, jefferson said, "a primary goal of our schools should be to give to every citizen," i emphasize the word every. he was very critical that civics was for an elite few, that every citizen should be given the information needed to understand his duties to his neighbors and his country. and to discharge with competence. believece is a word i is inadequately emphasized in
most civics instruction. to discharge with competence, confided to him by either. that is what i think should be the purpose of a civics education. what does that convert to? that converts to issues of skills, are we preparing students with the skills that would allow them to first, discern that there is a problem? or a missed opportunity? then, to exercise a series of competencies necessary for overcoming the problem or a choosing the missed opportunity. i also believe civics is like a musical instrument or sport. you don't learn to play the piano by reading a textbook about the piano. you learn to play the piano by playing the piano. you learn civics by actually
engaging. in that course i referred to at carol city, the first day we organized the students into groups of three, so that they would begin to learn some of the principles of small group interaction. topic that was of concern to them. topic that wasf concern to them. any topic that they wanted. human rights in china -- but they had this constraint -- one third of the final grade was going to be based on what they were able to do about the problem. were they able to move the needle over the 18 weeks? that got them focused on things that were closer to home. as an example, carol city had a private water and sewer company , and there had been a long time feeling that the water that the company was providing to its customers was below grade.
a group of three students wanted to take on that issue. was it below grade? the first thing they did was they went to the chemistry department of carol city. they learned the standards you have to utilize if you are going to challenge a product, in this case, water, as to its cleanliness and efficacy. civics does not occur in a vacuum. it almost always requires knowledge of other topics in order to be effective. with that understanding, they collected dozens of bottles of water according to the scientific standards. they then had to find out, who was the decision-maker? it was not difficult, because in our federalist system, we distribute political responsibility broadly.
in this case, they determined it was the county health director who was responsible. they went to the office of the they went to the office of the county health director with all their bottles, asked that the water be analyzed, and the finding was, yes, the water was bad. the county health director began issuing cease and desist orders to this private utility company. needless to say, those students the county health director began got a very high grade in terms of how they moved the needle. i think that kind of practical learning is a key part of an effective civics curriculum. it is also important that in most cases, you start local. as these students did with the local water supply. i have a granddaughter who next
week is going to participate in a model united nations. i am a supporter of the united nations as an important global institution. i really think students would be better served if they were going to spend a few days doing a model school board or a model city council or an activity that was more relevant to their current lives. those are some of the principles i think should be incorporated into a civics curriculum, which should in turn return to the american public school system. i think this is a critically important issue. we cannot go another generation lost by failure to expose them to the basic principles and
competencies of citizenship in a democracy. the students from stonewall douglas are this morning, displaying what it means to society to have young people who are prepared to be not just passive spectators, but active participants in making their community, school, state, their nation, a more democratic place for all citizens. thank you. >> [applause] >> thank you so much, senator. we have time for one question for the senator, and then we will bring up the panel talking about engagement in civics. it is exciting. great. here, therean over is a microphone. if you could state your name and maybe affiliation and a question. thank you. >> i am with growing democracy. i loved what you said about the
piano, he did not want to play by reading a textbook. do you agree with lawrence tribe and other scholars that we should lower the voting age so that people studying civics can participate in elections? sen. graham: i honestly don't have an opinion as to whether moving the voting age from 18 to 16 for instance, would be advantageous. in the spirit of enhancing democracy, i would say it wouldn't be a bad thing for some states to use the laboratory of democracy, which states are supposed to do an d experiment with that, and see what the results were and then we could make a judgment as to whether it appeared to be an idea worthy of nationwide adoption. >> again, thanks senator graham for your leadership. idea worthy of nationwide adoption.
for your civics lesson to us this morning. i will invite my colleague, catherine brown and the panel to come to the stage. thank you. >> [applause] >> thank you so much. >> wonderful. thank you all so much for being with us this morning to discuss this important issue. my name is catherine brown, the vice president for education policy at the center for american progress. we will dive right in. we will do a different format where i will not introduce the panelist at the outset. a shorti will give introduction. this is stephanie sanford, the chief of global policy at the college board. she is also the author of "the civic life in the information age: politics, technology, and generation x." the former director of policy
and advocacy for the united states program of the bill and linda gates foundation. a deep expert in this topic. i want to start with some level setting. can you tell us about the difference between civics and history? >> thank you so much. it is wonderful to be here. this is an issue near and dear to my heart. a goodht the senator did job at delineating the difference. history is what happened before. civics is something that is active. that is the study of rights and duties and responsibilities to be an effective citizen in a democracy. the way we have talked about it on other panels, i've shared this with generation citizen a number of times over the last year, the notion that we have -- that civics means knowledge. you know what to do and you know about these institutions, you have skills to engage with them, and you have agency to believe you can make a difference. >> wonderful. there's been a fair amount of research on the focus and
senator graham alluded to this, on the focus on reading and math and going back to the 1970's that has pushed out civics and other topics as well -- arts, music, physical education. i'm curious, stephanie, if you think we have a new opportunity with the every student succeeds act, which creates a broader definition of student success to bring in back into american education today. >> i think so. i think the charge is that a narrow focus on reading and math has pushed out other topics. it clearly says, explicitly calls for a well-rounded education and calls out civics and government quite specifically. also need to caution, the notion of pushback implies there was intent to do that. i do think the senator had an excellent articulation of the
pressure that civics education in particular came under. the idea that in focusing on reading -- when we redesigned the sat two years ago, a test of reading, writing and math, one of the things we did was to assure that of the 7 million students who will take the psat or the sat, you would encounter an american founding document or another document of great conversation. the idea that, whether you would find the constitution, or the declaration or robert jordan's testimony airing impeachment, the idea that a broad-based instrument you would encounter through reading, that he would encounter these texts, i think was an important innovation. focusing't anything in on reading and writing that says you could not read these meaningful texts. important i want
point. to turn now to juanita. she is in eighth grade social studies and generation citizen teacher. she currently manages curricular development and serves on the generation citizens rhode island board. another barrier we have heard, when we listen to this issue -- most educators want to remain neutral to politics in the classroom. and talking about current events in issue -- most educators want to remain civics today in a way that is all students experiences, cultures, identities and bodies -- identities and values can be very challenging. chargedvery environment. charged environment. i would love to hear how you dealt with this challenge in your classroom, and how you advise other generation citizen teachers to deal with it to the >> thank you, and thank you for having me here. in my classroom, one of the things i would do, and it was adjusting during the last election -- interesting during
the last election to be neutral in the classroom. we did have many discussions in terms of what was going on at the national level, but i kept turning it back to what is going on in your local community. and in generations, that was a natural thing to do. to havesize and try issues, focus on local very similar to what senator hisam was referring to with version of the curriculum many years ago, which is really exciting that that was happening at that time because we do something very similar. we just labeled it action civics. i have students just come back to what is going on in our community, and how does it affect you? a lot of the barriers of that, you could encounter talking .bout controversial issues
they lessen and diminish. there are times you are talking about things like police brutality where you need to have these hard conversations and have a safe space for your students to have them. difficult work to do. in my new role working with teachers nationwide, we try to provide guidance for them to wee those conversations, and are currently working on a revision to our curriculum. one of the top priorities is to ensure that we are looking at an equity framework and ensuring all of our lessons incorporate those elements to make sure all of our students needs are being know, and it's not just the developmental stage or learning ability but any other cap of diversity we can consider. >> wonderful. thank you so much. i want to turn now to scott, the
cofounder and ceo of generation citizen, where he has worked to expand actions of its in schools, and empower young people to become engaged in their communities. you saw a real need for students to become active participants in their democracy. can you tell us about the model, the history, and how you sequence the instruction to give all students the knowledge, skills, and agency that 70 referred to earlier? -- stephanie referred to earlier? it is a timely issue and gratifying to see folks importance ofe civic education. senator graham did a great job distilling the problem and some of the solutions we think about as well. cofound generation citizen eight years ago. up thebackground, i grew son of a foreign service officer in emerging democracies around the world. senator graham's talking about how we see distinctions between emerging democracies and more
emerged democracies. 2002.ked in kenya and there was a coup in ecuador. we saw a runoff elections in zimbabwe in 2008. i was motivated by the power and fragility of democracy. the power of what happens when people come together to make a collective difference and the , fragility is something that needs to be cultivated and intended in that concept. scott: when i got back to the u.s., recognizing, this goes to the model question, the extent to which the trope, carol will talk on this too, the trope of young people being disengaged is not true. they talk about the millennial generation not being engaged. that is not true. what can be true is not seeing politics and government as a way to effect change. not seeing them as relevant. it becomes an abstract concept that is not being taught.
this is the piano allergy. if you are going to teach civics in that way, it's not going to be relevant students. it will not be the vibrant concept that can bring it alive like one he it was able to do in her classroom. generation citizen does action civics. we put action before civics, and it changes everything. it is the practicing the piano approach, where students choose very local issues they care about and learn about how local government works through actually taking action on those issues. it's a real school class. it's not afterschool or extracurricular. they're taking this just like math, science, english. it will be choosing issues, like affordable housing and gentrification in new york city, looking at specific city council laws that would provide affordable housing, tax incentives to landlords that provide affordable housing. i get tripped up when i say it, but these are 11th graders working on an issue like that.
and another example that i love -- every student always wants to tackle cafeteria food. that's the issue. they always want to do that. we had a class in brooklyn that looked at cafeteria food. through our curriculum, we encouraged them to go to the root cause. why does it exist? how can you think about systemic , root causes? they found, in a lot of restaurants they had a, b, c grades, like the sanitation grades. new york schools have those grades, but they were not required to be public. they went to the state legislature. this was the right body to go to in this case. they successfully convinced the state legislature to pass a bill that now requires schools to publish their sanitation grades. that doesn't necessarily mean that right away the cold pizza will become gourmet, but i think what it did get them to realize was we care about cafeteria food in our school and we will learn about how the state legislature
works, actually using that and making that relevant to our lives, and expanding that so it is more relevant. that is how action civics works. very similar to the framework of senator graham. really going in on local issues, and it's all about how do we get civics and politics to be as exciting as when i studied emerging democracies growing up? you're seeing this in response to parkland, students are recognizing the relevance of democracy and government in their own lives. that is the knob that needs to be turned. ms. brown: thank you so much. i want to bring caroline into the conversation, ceo of rock the vote. so this panel has been focused on what happens in schools, and how schools and educators can better prepare students to be active citizens. but it is the goal of education , senator graham was preparing us, challenging us earlier and , prepare students for other live to be active students, participate in democracies. we have to look beyond schools
and think about the continuum of how you engage young people. can you tell us what you have learned about youth engagement more broadly and specifically, how rock the boat is -- vote is contributing to helping young people? >> first, thank you for having us. asas then discussed -- has been discussed by the panel already, it is very timely. i hope, if anything has come out of the tragedy in parkland, that students are disabusing everyone in the country of something we know at rock the vote, that young people are engaged and knowledgeable. with agency and civic education and with empowerment, that they actually will move things. i think the issue we see is, because of the state of civic education, a lot of young people when they turn 18 or get out of , their traditional institutions of higher education, they are not prepared at all and have inherited a broken system. and -- excuse me.
what we do at rock the vote, our mission is to build political for young people, and that involves a lot of things, and civic education is part of that. one of the pieces we have seen is young people are questioning the power of their vote in a very serious way. and they are seeing other avenues. that's why you're seeing a lot more protest in the streets, from issues like black lives matter to gun violence, and a whole slew of different issues. and so one of the things i think , civic education both in the schools and out of the schools can do a better job of is really tying it to the issues that impact their community and daily life i think . there is a very big disconnect when they are 18 years old, how do these issues impact my day-to-day life? and if you can bring it down to the community level as a
strategy and a tactic, to get them engaged. that the first of showing them -- first step showing them they , can have an impact with their vote or approaching a state senator or representative or whoever the elected official is that move the issue, but then also educating them on the registration and voting process, quite frankly. that should be part of civics education. it is different in every state. it is terribly confusing, and purposely so. those are some pieces we work to do. education and guiding people through the process. ms. brown: wonderful. thank you so much. so now, i want to get into solutions, particularly some of the policy solutions. i would love to ask stephanie and also scott, one of the things that has emerged in a number of states, a product i would encourage all to pick up, called "the state of civics education." my colleague sarah shapiro did a 50 state analysis of what the
state of it is in every state. one of the policies is requiring students to take a citizenship test. i'm curious what your reaction is? will this get at the low participation rates we're seeing? we would love to hear any thoughts on that as a policy solution. >> mean, i think the idea that a hip test, which in preparation for this i took it , online this weekend. just to tell you how i spend my weekends. it is 100 questions. it's quite rudimentary. 17 states have done this. i actually met, when i was in arizona before the holiday, i met actually with the state senator who saw that as a step one. i think one, it is step one. ,it is by no means the answer. assessment is simply a measure of knowledge. but the idea that, that this would be somehow too high a bar, just to give you an example of a
couple questions on the test. "we elect u.s. representatives for how many years?" "who was the first president?" "who is president now?" the test itself took 15 minutes. there was a series of questions as simple as this. so a couple of things. one, i think it would be a terrible idea if that were the end. that if the idea of civic knowledge, you could answer 100 elementary-school type questions. so, i think, having that as a step one, because senator graham talked about just how little civic knowledge there really is. that the idea that two thirds of americans cannot name the three branches of government. arne duncan said, however, at least 75% can name all three stooges and at least one judge on american idol. so maybe this is not a terrible place to start. scott: it is interesting.
i think there is almost a distinction between policy and politics of it. i do think that this is a time that requires innovative policy solutions to the problem. and so, we can talk through some of them, but i think that is important. i agree with stephanie that every american should be able to pass the citizenship test. i don't think that is a high bar. i think the challenge is -- and i don't know if i have a particularly strong personal opinion. the challenge is our schools , going to use that as step one or because it is becoming assessed, is that going to be the end game? and that is the fear. right? to sort of extend other analogies -- you do not teach science just by teaching the periodic table. it is important to know the periodic table, which is
probably inordinately harder than the citizenship test. i do not even know if the periodic table is step one, but it is integrated into the overall teaching. if we are saying, after an effective civics course, you should be able to pass the test, i think that that makes sense. i think the challenge is, and one either can weigh in on this, are teachers going to see, this is another requirement. i have to teach to this. therefore, not necessarily integrating everything else that makes a civics course effective? i think that is the fear. we have been working on legislation in massachusetts where this has been integrated into it with everything else going on. with the standalone policy, a politics peace, it gets me. i don't know how you would think about it if that was in your class. anita: i did play around with it for a couple years. at the beginning of the semester, i had my generation citizen class and my social
studies students both take the test. actually we had teacher , assistants and special educators in the classroom who took it along with us for fun, i guess. and many of the adults did not pass. many of the students didn't pass it either. they worth eighth graders. -- they were eighth graders. we did a midterm, and at the end of the school year, i did see scores definitely went up. did anyone pass it? i think a few people. a few students passed it, but it was kind of like set aside. there was not the focus of the year. that said, i do not think it should definitely be a graduation requirement because i know that has been floating around, because it sets our bar pretty low. i mean a 15 minute test? ,that is pretty low. i think my students were able to
show their civic knowledge in ways.ent talking about reading a bill and pulling out the important parts of it and making suggestions as to how we could improve it. there is some way we can assess that and make this more, um -- increasing the standards. and our expectations for our students. >> i was just going to say, i think building on that, there , is the knowledge piece we're talking about. there is knowledge needed. but there are also skills and civic education. the liberation, collaboration, public speaking, writing, critical thinking. and those are increasingly important when we're talking about more and more of what we are accessing is actually online. and where we need to be able to teach kids to discern what is real, what is not. how to think about different
issues, especially as we become more polarized. >> i think generation citizen is such an excellent model. i mean, if we think about -- you need to know things to be able to do things and apply them, know where you can find the information or where these decisions are made. i love the notion of the idea you have to practice. it is a noncontroversial that you would have to practice piano. controversial idea that you would have to practice to get better at basketball. somehow, we do not think of it in terms of education generally but particularly civic education. getting to know this model is particularly, that focus on localism that says, here is a problem. you know how do i learn about , the problem? how do i learn where it can be solved? how do i learn about the mechanisms of government? it's through that. learning something, doing something, and then having an impact, which is much more likely closer to a community that built its own sense of agency. i suspect from your students, once you have done that, then you have the agency in the sense
of, i can do more, i can recruit other people, i can be more active in my community. that really animates a virtuous cycle of increased participation. scott: i would almost prefer a local citizenship test. do agree on that. exactly. if you know who the mayor is, you will know who the president is. that is just a given. i also curious -- do you know which branch of government the chief of the police is in rather than do you know the three branches of government? we were talking earlier about district attorneys and how that has galvanized people. do you understand what the district attorney does? what their office allows them to do? in the branch they are in, as opposed to, do you know what the executive, judicial, and legislative branches can do? >> i love that idea of having a local citizenship test.
oftentimes in my class, i would have a paper on the wall with the three branches but then under them, we were not looking at federal. we were not even often looking at state level. we were looking at where does the school board committee fit in? how do they end up in the school board committee? it is done differently in different communities. and who are these folks? so let's learn about these people that are making important decisions from cold pizza on friday to what am i wearing to where is the money going?and whe and i think that helps make this whole idea of government and democracy less abstract and less daunting and less scary for students at a very early age. my first generation citizen class was sixth graders. and they decided -- they were upset about a lot of things. and in the end, they realized they did not have a voice in our school. so they said, well, how about a student council? how about we become part of the
government? and they created a student government, and then they started from that student government dealing with what do we think of uniform policy? what do we think of our food and contacting the actual folks that deal with food? so i think, definitely having the focus on local government, it's so much more powerful for our students in k-12. ms. brown: where do we start with this? is this idea that you find out what drives the students, what connects with their lives, and you build a civics curriculum around that? that is sort of what i'm hearing, but i wanted to directly ask. i am curious -- anita and caroline. how do you tap into young people to get them engaged? one of the most powerful ways? >> it is issue-driven. also the idea that they have agency. usually, you can see
that more and the local level of the community. one of the things we focused on in 2017 was actually municipal elections. we provide an election center that breaks down what offices actually do, what the ir responsibilities are, who is running for them. we have links to their websites , there's a media, everything you could possibly want. we did that in 2016 as well. in 2016, we had 4 million users access the information. in 2017, it was lower than that. but we also teamed up with local groups to develop voter guides based on the issues that were actually impacting their community. and so young people were , designing questions and then contacting candidates and answers to those questions, and then we would post it on to our website, and because our name was associated with it, a lot of times the , candidates were more responsive to them. >> i think that one of the
things that we do really well -- and there's always room for improvement -- at generation citizen, is creating a democratic classroom culture, and ensuring that our curriculum and the space it is taught in is student centered and student driven, because it is action-based, project-based learning, when you talk about it in educational terms. so ensuring that students have the confidence, the vocabulary the activity to look at the , different issues. so we start with creating a classroom constitution. how are we going to approach the semester? and we emphasized that it is a living document. so throughout the semester, there are points where we are in a classroom with 28 kids. it is not all going to be lovely all the time and roses.
so ok let's stop and go back to , the constitution. what are we doing well? what do we need to work on? do we need to make edits? let's remind ourselves of how we are supposed to be working, and then moving forward, creating that sense of accountability for students and that ownership of what they are doing. that comes from consensus building, which i think we do a nice job of. it's a really fun activity that turns into austin a very lively debate. students sharing very personal feelings on many different topics, where they are deciding what issue they are going to focus on as able class or the entire semester. you need some class buy-in. and even when you do not have 100% of students -- which i don't know if that has ever happened -- 100% of students excited about that issue, we focus on tapping into everyone's skills.
are you really good at writing? how do you feel about -- are you an extrovert? are you ok calling a representative on the phone? a community activist? do you like research? we have research components that helps with that, too. i think having a student led , student-centered space for everyone to be able to participate at some level during the semester make it a very powerful program. catherine: great. so, pulling to the policy level, if you could design the perfect set of requirements, interventions, i am curious, as a state policy maker, what would you put in place? it sounds like you think the citizenship is a reasonable baseline. would you add things on top? you are aware of the different mandates and challenges that schools are trying to accomplish these days. stefanie: the campaign for the
civic mission of schools has a policy agenda out. i would highly recommend that. it looks set how do you teach -- it looks at how do you teach civics? how do you give meaningful responsibilities? how do you engage the community? how do you have within-school activities that develop agency? i think policies are pretty blunt instruments for this. i mean, just even, we are people who agree here, and there is a lot of vitality and imagination within this sector right now. i think i would look at the campaign for the civic schools , and they have a history of making real progress. but to have some humility about getting sort of too muscular about policy now. because i do think we are in a moment where whether it is the
, events in florida, the increased participation, the innovation within classrooms, i think it renewed interest in civic action, rather than trying to get a one-size-fits-all to really set baselines and allow for a lot of experimentation and variation. scott: i agree with all that. and so we actually, along with a broad coalition, are seeing a -- are just releasing a policy bill, in a massachusetts, building on what has been done in florida, illinois. it is a pretty robust policy. the way this came about was talking to folks like ice civics, the online games for civics education which was started by justice sandra day o'connor. it is a cross platform organization. what the bill is going to do is
essentially provide a suite of different options. looking as graduation requirements, student should take some sort of civic project before they graduate. it does have that in place. it will increase funding for teachers to engage in this professional development because that does not happen right now. and actually, launched some sort of almost like a spelling bee for civics in massachusetts to get students thinking about this. so i think it will be interesting. it is trying to be one of the more robust policies that's out there, and the massachusetts legislature has made this a priority. so it will be interesting to see what happens. the second thing, and this goes more on stephanie's point. i think there is an opportunity beyond state-level policy, you have seen illinois and florida specifically engaged in some interesting work largely around funding and assessment.
scott i think those are two of : the lever points. we always talk about schools as having a historical civic mission, a historical civic purpose, but we don't talk about what that means. i am curious, if there is a way to almost incorporate democracy in educating young people to be citizens as more of a framework for schools. civics classes are important. -- civics class is important. i think it is also relatively insufficient. if all we're talking about is one class, one class in eighth grade, it's not enough. i don't think any of us think that it is enough. the way the started thinking about it, how can schools really embrace classes that are relevant, a culture that is democratic, andgrade, it's not . that they engage with the community around them themselves? that means in science class, , they are measuring the ph waters of levels to find out if they are safe. that means in english class they , are writing letters to the editor. they're looking at traffic patterns and figuring out if there is a way to solve that by the school. thinking about it holistically, as opposed to policy as a blunt
instrument, i think both of those have to happen at the same time. >> i like how you said that. i'm sorry. and actually the school i was , teaching at in providence, they actually began this year focusing on a civic strand in the school. so trying to do some of what know has justu , mentioned. i'm excited to see what that is going to look like and if other schools around the nation are working towards them. i can see how that could definitely be a really great way to approach this. catherine: are there information -sharing networks between states? do you feel there has been a surge of interest in this issue and people are talking? i think you're probably part of a lot of these conversations. [laughter] >> there is a lot of interest in it. i don't have a sense of there being a robust infrastructure yet to share best practices or to have states collaborate.
i think you have seen, among the service groups, national service groups, their creation of a coalition for your service year idea. we have had conversations with them. if we believed that you need knowledge skills and agencies, can we bring the knowledge people together? -- together with the skills and agencies people? to what scott was talking about how can you then have these be , authentic experiences? i love scott's perspective to work on real-world problems. because we do see that young people like to do that. you know, a great progressive saidtor, debbie myers, young people need to come into contact with a range of adults they can see themselves becoming. the notion of high school in particular is it has become really insular. implicit in what each of us are talking about, some way to better engage young people in problems of their communities. that is a way to build, to tie relevantedge to
experience and build that sense of agency that they should be engaged in problem solving. catherine: you mentioned core to the knowledge piece is the information you are getting is accurate and you can discern fact and fiction from opinion. we have seen a prevalence of fake news. this is a challenge young people are facing with a wealth of information around the internet. how does civics education help solve that problem if at all? scott? [laughter] scott: that's the issue of the day. i do think that media literacy absolutely has to be a part of civics education and figuring out how you distill the real news from news app might not be as accurate. i think, again, that focusing on the local is important. i heard a stat the other day that 65% of students get the majority of their news from facebook. that is just a fact. that is happening. there is more news literacy that needs to happen.
i will say -- i mean -- i also think, not just badger on, but i think the companies and social media needs to do a better job, and recognize their responsibility. just saying this is an open marketplace, it is going to put too much pressure on educators and on young people themselves to be able to distill that. so both of those have to happen at the same time. it's interesting. i have not thought about it in this light. as a civic agenda, how do you actually regulate some of those folks so that they actually see it as part of their mission? if you have 60% to 70% of young people get their news from facebook they have an obligation , to help distill that. catherine: you have done a lot of work in digital literacy. any reflection on this? carolyn: i don't -- like scott,
i hope the social media platforms take responsibility and do what is right, but i also think the action civics model of creating and helping students build critical thinking skills and deliberating and figuring out what is opinion and what is fat, and what is fake are , important. one thing we have not discussed here, but i think come into that is the support that we need to provide teachers who take on things that may in their community seem more political or may be political. and i think that is a real challenge that a lot of teachers are facing and need to beef up the districts to support them. in terms of digital, it is something that is not going away and needs to be addressed. and there are great groups actually doing a lot of research on this. it needs to be part of civic education. definitely. catherine: we do not have a ton
of time left before we get to your questions, and i want to do a quick round robin. you touched on this in terms of supporting teachers. we would love to hear any advice you have for policymakers as they are thinking about these -- this issue. does anyone want to start? carolyn: i have one piece that addressedt actually that i think we all work in so deeply, but is not part of the conversation a lot. it's just inequity in civic education, also. a quarter of people pass the civic assessment, but wealthy white students were four times to six times more likely than black and hispanic students to be considered proficient in it. that needs to be part of the conversation if we are having assessments. these resources go to the places that are needed and have equity. catherine: thank you for underscoring that. juanita: along with that, we also know black, brown students,
students in low income areas, a lot of the urban areas, don't have an will never have experienced debate, a classroom debate, mock trials any of these , wonderful things that we know create critical thinkers or help create critical thinkers. in terms of supporting a teacher, i know i took on a lot more than i could handle a lot of times, trying to make sure my students had access to and were exposed to as much as possible during that time, that short amount of time, they were with me. i wish i could have done more. i know that is a big struggle. if you're a teacher, you are here for a reason. you mean well, and you want to do the best, but we often simply do not have the capacity to do it. i know that is a so creating that, for us, is
just critical in order to keep moving civic education into what we want it to look like, to ensure that we do have future active citizens. catherine: such an important point. scott: i think the last thing, and this goes off these comments, and we have not touched on this as much, but just ensuring that we are listening to the students and student voices are omnipresent in these conversations. i think when we are asking what the best type of civic education is, ensuring that we are listening to them when we are talking about news literacy. i do not even know the platforms students are engaging on these days. so actually listening to them engaging with them on what they think is important. it goes back to last week. i think what has been so powerful about the students from florida is that they have made themselves be seen as legitimate actors.
they were seen as legitimate actors from the start. their specific knowledge on this and their passion -- i think this is what i have believed in the power of young people -- to see the world for what it can be rather than what it is. we get in these gun control debates, there is this sense of stagnation. like, we know how this is going to end. they are not seeing this like that right now. i think that is something incredibly powerful. just making sure we are not talking about civic education being done to young people but , working with them to co-construct the democracy we want, rather than the one we have today. catherine: final thoughts? stefanie: the theme of listening. a number of us were at the newseum in september. one of the highlights was justice sotomayor. she had taken over the board of civics. the group that she started.
she gave a wonderful sort of talk about civic education, and the constitution, and then she walked through the crowd and to questions, sort of one-on-one. there was a moment. there were young people there. so i want to say that, yes we , need to listen to the young people, but we also need to listen to each other. so there was a young undergraduate who was seething in response. and she said -- she said to the justice "how can you talk about , all of this free speech when so many people are just so wrong? what do i do?" by the way, that is exactly what happened in that meeting. the adults were like, ok. she put her hand on that young woman's shoulder and said "listen." and i do think that as we talk and consider knowledge, agency,
voice, protest, the flip side of that is yes, we listen to young people, but we also listen to each other. catherine: great way to end. thank you so much. we would love to take your questions. if you could raise your name and -- hand and state your name and the organization you are a part of. the am the president of washington teachers union, and i would like to think all of you for your comments. i am a teacher 40 years in d.c. i was at one of the schools involved in the brown case. that was seven years ago. course, i was excited, telling my sixth-graders about the case. they told me they were not interested. the school was de facto recently. deplorable conditions. rundown 53 years after brown. they complained every day about no library, no books. and i said, "listen this is a , chance for you to talk to the people who can make a difference." and one of the young ladies, a sixth grader, they said "what
are they celebrating? celebratingare they this?" we have the same books from 1953. the kids went before the city council and shared their thoughts. i asked them to write their councilmember. we will go before the council. they did. it was the 50th anniversary of brown. they said "can the kids come down to talk about the bowling case?" they said "sure." they thought they were going to -- to regurgitate the facts. they came and talk about the deplorable condition of their school 50 years after brown. sitting in that meeting with senator brown and nancy pelosi, and as a result, the school, which was slated for demolition was restored, modernized and is now sitting there in ward seven of d.c. the students, of course, and i do concur with what you said. after that project, taking the information they learned in
class and using it to solve a real-world problem for them in -- empowered them to believe they could do anything else, and they did. they organized pta. and i learned from them that applying, teaching them how to apply the knowledge, and knowing i cannot remain neutral in my classroom no matter how hard i tried was going to be the key, and allowing them to cite the problems in their school and community, use the lessons i teach them to apply to solve those problems. and i do appreciate the message that you brought this morning, because we have lost contact with the need for civic engagement. civics in our schools, every school, especially in these times. so thank you. scott: thank you. catherine: gentleman in the second row. >> i have to agree with all that. i'm bill klein. i'm a retired army physician. with maybe one exception 50 years ago, i have never missed a vote.
and i am particularly -- scofflaw voters are those that can vote, but don't. most of the people you are talking about are not old enough to vote. i would put citizen responsibility at the center with book learning education at one side and experience at the other side. but my question is -- we talk a lot about doing things, but how do you instill the requirement -- sense of responsibility in voters? you can do what australia did, and require voters to go to the polls. i really believe the main result we have from our government is the almost 40% of people eligible, but did not vote in the 2016 elections. that is why i would responsibility in front. the scofflaw voters are responsible. to the people who did not vote on either side. catherine: go ahead. scott: the one thing i wanted to say on that from an education
perspective is that i think that we have gotten a little too individualized and personalized in education writ large. we lose the collaborative spirit that is necessary for individual responsibility. and so, that, i think from , education perspective, we try to create that, like we're in this together, our success is dependent on all of our success. >> yeah, i think collective success is one of the mantras we try and push forward. the challenge is, things have changed a lot in 50 years. it is, one, difficult to say to a young person, particularly a young person of color, "it is your responsibility to vote when the system doesn't work for you." we have to face that reality because this millennial generation, generation x, is more diverse than older generations. and so the motivation, the
, persuasion, to tell them that voting actually matters is different and it has changed over the years. in addition to that, you have civic education going down. our system is much more complex, especially when you talk about registering to vote and actually voting for young people. when you talk voter id laws that are systematically made so that young people cannot participate in our system particularly young people of , color. it's harder to say "it is your responsibility. "participate and in a system that you are inheriting that is already broken." it is something that i think because -- in 2016, quite honestly, some people actually made that argument even harder. you saw it in the primary. young people overwhelmingly voted for bernie. he did not win in the primary.
and then, you saw young people overwhelmingly vote for hillary and she didn't win. ,right? stephen moshe she won the popular vote. -- even though she won the popular vote. so having that sense of i can make a difference, i'm going to vote and keep voting even when you feel like you can make a difference is hard to get over. >> i also wonder if -- i don't think this is something we have done at some point -- is tracking the students that actually engage in action civics during their school career. whether it is with us or any of the other wonderful organizations that actually do action civics, and seeing whether or not they are feeling more responsible and showing up to vote. i wonder if there is a connection there. i would imagine so. i imagine that there are certain cases that i still keep in contact with that are more aware
of what is going on and are more apt to take action on things, whether very small or, you know, over the larger scale. so i wonder if there could be a connection to that as well. carolyn: there are a group of behavioral scientists that actually studied why they are less likely to vote. it is not just that they are young. they are new voters. so without the civic education, and without any sort of education of how to participate, and then with increased , overestimateey one, the process. they feel very uncertain about how the process actually works, if they actually can make an impact. and two, they underestimate their political intelligence and knowledge, and think in some ways people might say it is responsible. that they don't have the expertise to really participate.
that is something that also -- we actually at rock the vote did -- we analyzed each state and assigned them a report card of how they do with voting laws and election policy and which states promote young people voting and which ones actually don't. it's really sad. stefanie: the question of research is a good one. what are the things -- if the most basic responsibility is to vote, then do these kinds of -- whether it is the ap government and politics course, whether it is the service project, generation civics do any of , those actually impact? i think that is a terrific research agenda, and when we will actually take. scott: the last thing i want to say on that, i do think the notion of lowering the voting age to 16 is something worth looking at, specifically in local elections. that is something where you are
saying -- high schools -- they have lowered the voting age. there is a bill in washington .c., and we worked on a bill in san francisco that would do that. talk about research. countries around the world do this. the voting rates are much higher. not only for young people but adults in general. if you are able to get young people to vote while they are still in school, where people in the aggregate are participating, it would enhance and inspire more civics education. so i do think that is something worth thinking about, not as a crazy policy idea, but i something that is sensible and would enhance of his education as well. carolyn: there is also free registration of 16 and 17-year-olds. some states do that as well. catherine: they are good ideas. i will never forget the first time i voted. that has an impact. we have time for one question. the young man in the back. alexander hello. : name is alexander hutton.
the current affiliations. just recent graduate of political science, ba. there is a lot of talk, within this q&a, about voting, and how it is the most basic civic fundamental right. and short of doing something like australia, mandatory, the just --cs they are there just don't affirm voting actually matters. you have a one in 60 million chance in being an influential vote. you have a one in 10 million chance in being an influential vote in a statewide election. even just to bring this further, a recent school board election in my hometown of 1200, not even a single vote would have influenced that. so how do you tie these ideas , together when you look at the thatstics and they say voting is something you should partake in, but when the statistics don't back that up how do you continue to make your
, argument? >> i think al gore and hillary clinton might disagree with that assessment. i am curious what other people think. carolyn: this is the challenge you have to overcome. i think a couple of things. one, this is where local elections actually are really important. because there are fewer people voting, and you can make a difference with fewer votes. right? i would also say virginia, the legislature, i don't know if you saw that. obviously, i think you all did. one vote. if you broke down the votes in states like michigan, or wisconsin, or pennsylvania, for the presidential election in 2016 and broke them down by precinct it comes down to a few , votes per precinct. so i think we have to do a better job of showing people how their one vote actually matters. but it does certainly matter. i have messiness in the u.s.
presidential elections, but it would be interesting, but we did brexitomly when happened. young people overwhelmingly voted against brexit. if young people had just voted at the average rate, the rate of every other demographic, brexit would not have passed. there is the ability to actually change things. .ou know, yeah the virginia legislature is in the hands of republicans. thankould want to generation citizen and scott and wanted us of being our partners and putting this wonderful event on and all of our expert panelist taking the time to share their thoughts with us. i hope you will continue to push for civics education in all of its forms. thank you so much. [applause] >> have a good rest of the day. [chatter]
>> up next on c-span, the conversation on russian interference in u.s. elections. the second season of landmark cases. historic supreme court decisions. >> vice president pence will speak at cpac. the conservative political action conference he will hear counsel donouse mcgann, senator ted cruz, betsy devos, and labor secretary alex costa. live coverage at 10:35 a.m. eastern on c-span. q&a,ay on c-span's kate bowler talks about her memoir, "everything happens for on being" reflecting
diagnosed with stage four: cancer at the age of 35. >> i saw god. in, theple pouring intense -- all the intense prayers. a second i got sick, my whole got together in the chapel and like marathon runners for me, handing off throughout my whole surgery. part of it was reflecting back to the love and also was a sense that my hope is that as your preparing to die, i was having to make reparations, that -- preparations, that someone or something will be there. i felt that way. >> q&a, sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span. >> the c-span bus is traveling across the country on our 50 capitalist were. we recently stopped in little rock, arkansas, asking what is the most important issue in their state? there is a huge hispanic
population in our high schools in the area, especially northern arkansas. a lot of the hispanic people are not going to college. we want for all high school students to know that they can come to college, right? for me, it's really important that not only hispanics, but everyone has an opportunity. regardless of what -- whether i have daca or documentation, you can come to college. that is what's important right now. the issue that is important for me in arkansas is animal welfare. within animal rescue arkansas animal rescue, and we deal with a lot of abuse and neglect. we don't have law enforcement backing. we have laws, but they are not in force, and they are not very strict. it's a big issue for a scum of because we deal with the animals, and we see what they go don't have any
place for these animals to go. we don't have the funding for them. accountableot held for the abuse they inflict on animals. that's a big issue for me, is just stricter laws and more enforcement of those laws, and backing rescues and shelters to hold people accountable for what they do. >> i really don't want anyone in government doing much of anything. states --in the create different things and see how they work. onesof the big government don't work out really well. it's very hard on the whole country. that is what the founders wanted us to do, is to use the states. >> one of the most important
issues, i think, for the rock am a state of arkansas -- the state of little rock -- for little rock and the state of arkansas, is for us to take a look at it, the affordable care act. about the intensity of the flu season. health care is important for each and every individual. education is important, working is important, but without good health care, you cannot perform most of the best of your ability. i think that is a major issue for little rock citizens, our and all -- arkansasan, of americans. >> really support our farmers. of the number one
one industries in our state. they are passing legislation to protect our farmers rights. we have things that affect the poultry industry. toy cannot attach riders that and allow that bill to pass. important thing is taking care of our constituents at home. >> voices from the states on c-span. ♪ next, a panel looks at russian interference in u.s. elections. federal election commission member ellen weintraub. they spoke at the unring the system summit in new orleans. the nonprofit organization known as represent us posted the event. >> hello. hello, everyone. we are so excited that you are here. thank you for joining us today. we are about to start our next session.