In the New York Times online (Sept. 23), Thomas B. Edsall quotes a Romney supporter who explains why Obama may win that state: “People are stupid. … [Governments] eliminated civics from our curriculum. The students don’t know about civics, they don’t know about our history, our government, our constitution.” The mega-blogger Atrios asks whether it’s true that civics has been eliminated, and Kevin Drum thinks not, heading his blog post, “Civics is Alive and Well in American High Schools.”
This is an empirical question (a matter of fact), and a relatively full analysis is coming very soon from CIRCLE. We are at the proofreading and layout stage of a study that investigates all the standards, course requirements, and tests for civics and government in the 5o states plus DC. I do not want to scoop our findings, but my previous writing on this topic has already disclosed a major theme: We do still teach–and require–civics, but how we define and assess the subject is not satisfactory if we are trying to produce active and responsible participants in civil society.