The events of 2020 make it clear that violence, racism, vocal extremism and political polarization have risen to a breaking point. There are multiple currents of people moving within the American public who simply don’t understand the basics of civil society and democratic government.
Decades-long de-emphasis of civics instruction in schools across the nation and in Kansas isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a major cause of the summer riots or Capitol insurrection. But the current situation is a wake-up call bringing us back to the fundamental reason for public education.
The founding fathers supported public schools to develop an informed electorate whose votes would guarantee stability for the nation. Across many years, the centerpiece of teaching was preparation for citizenship. As public education evolved, civics classes, usually taught in middle school, were standard across the nation well past mid-20th Century.