Civics education is important. We the Civics Kids by The Rendell Center is here to help.
As someone who lives and works in Philadelphia, I take immense pride in our city’s history. Philadelphia is the birthplace of many historical institutions and companies: both the first children’s and cancer hospital in the nation, the nation’s first stock exchange, the world’s first computer and more. But most importantly, Philadelphia provided the roots of American democracy, serving as the first capital of the United States and the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.In Philadelphia, American history is right in our backyard. So you can understand my shock when presented with the following statistics.
In a 2016 Annenberg Public Policy Center national survey, 74% of American adults were unable to name all three branches of American government. In a separate 2017 C-Span survey, 57% of the population couldn’t name a single court justice, let alone their view on constitutional issues. If that wasn’t bad enough, in a 2016 Association of Trustees and Alumni report, 10% of college graduates thought Judith Sheindlin – more commonly known as Judge Judy – was a member of the Supreme Court.
How did this happen, and how can we prevent it from happening in the future? According to The Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement, we need to look to the youth of America to change the tide.
The Rendell Center, created by former Governor Edward G. Rendell and Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, is dedicated to improving the national quality of civics, starting in the birthplace of democracy. The Center is engaged in a bold experiment to create open and informed communication in elementary schools that increases youth’s civic literacy and civic engagement, with the goal of cultivating the next generation of active government workers, employees and American citizens. The Center’s We the Civics Kidsprogram works work with K-12 schools to build Civic curriculums so that students can learn and practice the knowledge and skills of effective active citizenship.
Serving as a public relations professional for The Rendell Center, I’ve had the opportunity to work with government agencies, elementary schools and various other individuals to help in the Center’s promotion of Civics education. Through their various programs, like the Literature-Based Mock Trials, the Citizenship Challenge experiential learning program and professional development programs for educators, The Rendell Center is aiming to create a more informed, social, tenacious group of young students who will make a real difference in the world.
Hopefully, in 15 years, these students will know Judge Judy as a daytime TV personality rather than thinking that she sits on the highest court in our country.
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