Civic education is being crowded out of the school day. If the Constitution is taught at all, it’s taught as a dusty piece of parchment written by dead guys in powdered wigs. Not every student will be a mathematician or a physicist, but every student will be a citizen.
Student journalism is “participatory civics.” When students start attending government meetings and court hearings, and asking how those agencies work, they learn how a bill really becomes a law. Citizenship education must teach students how to consume and create media, so they can make their voices heard on issues of social and political concern. And the law must protect their right to address those issues free from school retaliation. Censorship teaches students that it is a citizen’s job to make the government look good, and that criticizing the government is an act of disloyalty. It is “civic mis-education.”
“The cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans. It cannot be moved by those who cling to a present which is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger which comes with even the most peaceful progress. The world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. It is a revolutionary world we live in, and … it is young people who must take the lead.”
— Robert F. Kennedy
Address on the Day of Affirmation
June 6, 1966,
Capetown, South Africa