James F. O’Connor, the president of the Ohio Council for the Social Studies, explains in a piece at the Cincinnati Inquirer:
A famous tale about Benjamin Franklin goes as follows: Franklin was walking out of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when someone shouted out, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” Franklin supposedly responded with, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
The findings of a recent survey should cause the American people to take heed as it relates to Franklin’s answer. A new Quinnipiac University poll found that 69% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans say that our democracy is “in danger of collapse.”
To keep, as Franklin ominously warned, our republic together, the pressing question that Americans need to answer is, what are the solutions to strengthen our democracy?
An answer may reside in a recent federal bill with bipartisan support, The Civics Secures Democracy Act. This bill prioritizes the K-12 teaching of American history and civics and reverses the historic underfunding of these subjects. Further, it encourages the more frequent use of the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the valuable data it yields, and supports fellowship programs that strengthen and diversifies the teaching corp.
By educating the K-12 students of today with a meaningful civic and history education, our democracy of tomorrow may function with a sense of civility, respect for various viewpoints, and willingness to compromise in finding viable solutions. It is critical that each generation learn the practice of democracy and a civic sense of duty to its principles.The Ohio Council for the Social Studies, Ohio’s largest organization of history and social studies teachers, strongly supports the passage of this transformational bill.
The language in The Civics Secures Democracy Act outlines the following components:
- Grants to states ($585 million annually for five years) to support education in American civics and history. States that receive grants must use not less than 95% of the funds to make sub-grants to school districts to assist local education agencies in carrying out programs to improve the achievement of elementary and secondary school students in the fields of American civics and history.
- Support for qualified nonprofit organizations ($200 million annually for five years), through competitive grants, to assist such organizations in developing or expanding access to civics curricula, instructional models, and other educational programs to enhance student knowledge and achievement in American civics and history in elementary schools and secondary schools.
- Resources for institutions of higher education ($150 million annually for five years), on a competitive basis, to assist such institutions in developing and implementing programs to train elementary and secondary school teachers in methods for engaging students in American civics and history.
- CSDA funding and grants would give priority to proposals and programs focused on traditionally underserved populations.
Read the rest here.
Supporters of the bill include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Delaware Senator Chris Coons, Maine Senator Angus King, Arizona Senator Mark Kelley, Texas Senator John Cornyn, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, the American Alliance of Museums, the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the American Association for State and Local History, the American Historical Association, the Museum of the American Revolution, the National Council for History Education, National History Day, and The College Board.