NH needs more robust civics education

The roles and rights of citizenship are neither inherited nor intuitive, but must be learned

As a person who has taught civics, I recognize its importance. Giving everyone the equal opportunity to better themselves as informed citizens is an essential premise to civics itself.

With our world becoming more connected than it has ever been, it is important to understand the meanings of these connections. Like most New Hampshirites, I am proud of our state’s informed citizenry and the unique role we play in the nation’s democracy. We show up, listen and take action. This is fundamental to our collective identity and it is incumbent upon us to sustain this tradition.

But in recent years, that proud tradition has begun to wane. People feel less connected to government than in the past. That sense of disconnectedness causes citizens to get frustrated and creates an unwillingness to participate in government. We forget that it is incumbent upon all of us to mold and change our government to better serve the people. The roles and rights of citizenship are neither inherited nor intuitive, but must be learned. This begins with the youth in New Hampshire’s classrooms.

New Hampshire currently requires that students take a half-credit course in U.S. and New Hampshire government and civics. Our students are not learning the fundamentals, and this poses great risk to our democracy.

Senate Bill 45 will require a uniform framework for civics courses that includes the duties and responsibilities of citizenship, the constitutional basis of government, and local government affairs.

The bill will ensure that districts, schools and teachers are emphasizing civics in the way that the state standards intend. By outlining an instructional framework, this bill will ensure that our teachers are teaching the fundamentals of democracy, the responsibilities of every citizen, and the tools to engage. At no additional cost to the state, this is a commonsense measure for our students and our democracy.

I have been advocating for a more robust civics education for years, and there is no better time to make it a reality now that the bill has received sweeping support in the Senate. With robust civic learning, we will inspire the next generation of community leaders and voters to be critical actors in the democratic process and preserve New Hampshire’s deep-seated tradition.

New Hampshire has a responsibility to maintain our civic tradition and key role in America’s democracy. The bill garnered widespread support and passed in the Senate, and now we need support from the House.

Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, is the prime sponsor of SB 45.

Categories: Opinion