Teachers and Journalists Created Americans’ Political Ignorance
It’s too bad we can’t sue them for malpractice.
February 3, 2021
On January 6, hundreds of Americans invaded the US Capitol, determined to stop a process that doesn’t exist. Some sought to murder certain members of Congress. Five people died, hundreds were injured and terrorized, and the Capitol was trashed because our schools refuse to teach what Americans need to know. And our journalists spread those lies.
The rioters wanted Congress to overturn the election results so that Donald Trump could remain as president because they thought that Democrats “stole the election” from them.
The rioters wanted the impossible. They believed the lies that Trump told them. They believed because our schools failed to teach the truth, and because our journalists were complicit. We need to teach civics properly. Immediately.
Civics is the study of the structure and function of government, and the rights and duties of citizens.
It looks at the ways that our governments are organized, how they're supposed to work, and how they really do work.
Civics is an essential, but neglected, area of our education. The government operates by a set of rules.
We have the right and responsibility to participate in our government.
But we can't participate fully if we don't know those rules.
You can't get what you want if you don't know how the system works.
WHAT THE PUBLIC DOESN’T KNOW
If teachers were teaching civics properly, Americans would know:
HOW OUR SCHOOLS FAIL
The people who control our schools require political ignorance because it’s easier to control an ignorant populace.
If they wanted you to know this stuff, they would teach it to you.
They choose negligence.
Civics courses are supposed to teach how our government works in real life. Instead, they babble about that express-implied-enumerated-delegated-concurrent-reserved powers drivel. They force students to learn the Virginia-New Jersey-New York-Connecticut Plans. They drone on and on about John Locke, the Iroquois Confederacy, and the Federalist Papers.
That is not civics. It’s history and political theory. That stuff belongs in a separate course. When I mention “civics” to most people, they reply that they’re not good at HISTORY. Civics is not history. It’s current events, and should be taught as such.
Americans are incredibly ignorant. They don’t know our legislative, regulatory, and budgetary processes; the congressional committee structure, how to navigate our bureaucracy, or about the constituent services provided by every member of Congress.
They believe that we should ban lobbying as a corrupt activity because they don’t know what lobbying is or how to do it. Actually, we need more lobbyists.
Some teachers claim that “the government” tells them what to teach. And yet, neither the National Education Association nor the American Federation of Teachers make any effort to change those policies. I bet they couldn’t even tell you where those policies come from. But they choose negligence.
HOW OUR JOURNALISTS FAIL
Every media outlet in the country lied to the public. Journalists stated continually that Congress was in the process of “certifying” the Electoral College results when the riot erupted, thereby implying that Congress had a choice in the matter. And they’re still saying it.
Donald Trump and the GOP claimed that Pennsylvania violated its own state constitution by permitting mail-in voting.
Not even close.
Not one journalist mentioned that Pennsylvania’s constitution defines the eligibility criteria and process for absentee ballots. It also gives the state legislature the power to manage all other voting (Article VII, Sections 14 and 6). The legislators managed the other voting when they enacted Act 77 of 2019, which authorized mail-in voting.
Our teachers and journalists are products of the same negligent schools as our rioters, but they have a professional duty to know better. They don’t try to learn the truth. They enabled the rioters when they chose negligence. They chose their professions, and then they chose not to rock the corporate boat. There are many more examples of their failures, but I’ll move on.
WHY IT MATTERS
American politics are chaotic because Americans don’t know how their
People who know how government works know how to influence it.
Political ignorance breeds political impotence. Political literacy breeds political power.
Civic participation is one of the most important activities that adults can perform, but Americans are utterly unqualified for it. Successful democracy requires citizen participation every day, not just on Election Day. Participation requires an educated public. We don’t have that. There are those among us who work diligently to prevent it.
A defective education produces defective citizens, leaving the one percent free to wield their power against us.
The US and Rhode Island Leagues of Women Voters are supporting fourteen public school students and their families in a lawsuit against the state, trying to get proper civics education. Jane Koster, president of the Rhode Island LWV, said “It is the responsibility of our legislators and education departments to ensure that our next generations of citizens understand the workings of our country’s government and its history.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Student Press Law Center trains student journalists how to research and cover their news accurately. Their website says “Not every student will be a mathematician or a physicist, but every student will be a citizen.”
Jack Elbaum, a student at George Washington University, published an article, Our Country Requires Better Civics Education, in The Fulcrum, December 2020.
He quoted Martin Luther King’s statement "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." In Elbaum’s words, "America is experiencing a pandemic of both right now."
Since 2008, I’ve been using the U.S. Constitution and current events to teach seventh grade civics to adults through my column, Community Matters, because our schools won't do it. I don't report the news; I explain it.
WHAT WE CAN DO
Our teachers and journalists are responsible for much of the damage that our country suffers.
There are sins of omission and sins of commission. We can’t change the past, but we can improve the future.
We can eliminate most of the stupid conversations we have by learning how our own government works.
Begin by reading the United States Constitution. It only takes an hour, and it’s well worth your time.
You can read Community Matters at the link below.
My article Defective Teaching Methods Produce American Political Ignorance, linked below, offers a sensible way to teach civics to all children, beginning in kindergarten. We must encourage every school board to adopt it.
We can lobby our school boards and legislators to require a proper, complete, civics education.
A handful of organizations support the concept, but they’re not collaborating in a serious effort.
Dr. Jill Biden is a professional educator, a community college professor, and has had a front row seat to American government for 44 years. She has the perfect platform to invite interested parties to launch a major project to educate our people.
I’ll present this opportunity to her. I hope you will too. Her contact information is below.
As Americans, we have a right and a duty to know how our own government works.
Our teachers and media obstruct that opportunity. Teachers and journalists should have some pride in their work. Just imagine what this country could be if we had decent schools and honorable media.
For More Information
Read the Constitution
Defective Teaching Methods Produce American Political Ignorance
LWV Joins Lawsuit Supporting Student Plaintiffs’ Right to Civic Education
Student Press Law Center
Act 77 of 2019
Our Country Requires Better Civics Education
Why We Need More Lobbyists
Learn how to lobby
Social Policy & Programs Consulting
Training and Services for agencies working toward social and economic justice
Patricia A. O'Malley
Social Policy & Programs Consulting ~ Community Matters
P.O. Box 97803 ~ Pittsburgh, PA 15227 ~ 412-310-4886 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
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