NCBLA, Civics Literacy, and Yet Another Crisis in Education

NCBLA believes the sharing of children’s literature builds many different types of literacy.  Specifically, we have highlighted the need for reading and writing proficiency, of course, yet also have contributed to civics literacy efforts via both the publication of the print book Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out and the development of an associated web-based educational guide.  Do not forget to utilize these sources, often.

Alas, just as reading scores reveal that only 33% of America’s children are proficient in reading, so, too, in our nation only 22% of students are proficient in civics, “the principles of government in their application to society.”  (For American history, proficiency levels are even lower – 14%).  How can a nation govern itself when the populace does not understand its own governing system to any significant degree?  As Paul Carrese of Arizona State University’s School of Civic and Economic Thought has stated: “As a consequence, we now have a citizenry and an electorate that is poorly prepared to understand our form of government and civic life, and to appreciate it and actually use it to be informed and engaged citizens.”

Utilize “Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out” for reading comprehension activities.

Secretary of Education Cardona states, in a recent NPR article, that the problem stems from the pandemic and “culture wars.”  Those who are the boots on the ground, however, know that the problem is lack of exposure – civics and history curriculum and standards are just not being utilized, history and civics are not given instructional time, and these subjects are not incorporated into reading comprehension strategies, or even seen as important to a well-rounded curriculum.  Universities are even following the crisis-producing “trend” and changing general education requirements to NOT include such courses as American History, instead deferring to “global” understandings.  Perhaps this inattention can also be contributed to the fact that civics and history education has taken a backseat to STEM (funded at 1000 times that provided to history and civics), hence we have the current extremely frightening push forward with artificial intelligence, which could, as stated in news reports this week, devastate humanity.

Even thought Harvard and Tufts released “A Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy” in 2021, very little attention has been paid to history and civics curricula.  Will these new reports wake up the nation’s educational systems?  It is dreadful to say, “probably not.” As “boots” on the ground, however, let’s take the rein  and deliver the instruction, one-way or another!  Don’t forget – ready-made instructional materials are available at Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out.