The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill unanimously on Thursday requiring students to take civics classes at every grade level until the eighth grade. Students would then be required to pass an end of year exam in order to be promoted to high school, according to a report by Capitol News Service.
Rep. Lake Ray said that he was concerned that “citizens in our country know the difference between a state legislator and member of Congress or even who is president.” He went on to say that two out of every five Florida adults cannot name the three branches of government and more than half cannot name one of their U.S. Senators.”
These numbers are not surprising. With those statistics it is understandable why people distrust government as much as they do; they know nothing about it. It is easy to dislike something when you have no prior knowledge of it. You can equate the average Americans distaste of their government to persuading a toddler that eating vegetables are good and will make them grow big and strong.
The inclusion and emphasis of civic literacy in this country is vital to our societal progress. The lack of civics classes in school systems of the past, have literally robbed generations of Americans their stake in the political process. It is as if, these subjects are intentionally cut from education by governing bodies in an effort to offset budget deficits.
This leads to government being seen as operating in secret to citizens, almost like the government is “out to get them.” Citizens often forget that they literally make up the government.
The passing of this bill is an important accomplishment especially with it happening during National Sunshine Week. With civic literacy now being emphasized in schools, we can hope that ensuing generations of American citizens will be well equipped to challenge those in power. Not only will they be able to question those in authority, they will have knowledge of the proper facets to go about doing so.
In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”