Of the people, by the people
We live in a democracy. Most people probably know that. Unfortunately many people have not a clue how that democracy works. “How many states are in the union?” answer: 49. “How many senators does each state have?” Answer: depends on how many districts are in the state. “Who is our U.S. Senator?” Answer: is it a man or a woman? Before you get too carried away with the state of public school education, or blame it all on urban youth- Let me explain. Each of these answers was proffered by a college educated professional person between the ages of 25 and upper 40’s. Scary isn’t it? I thought so too.
The success of a democracy is predicated on an educated electorate. In fact, this was the basic reason for a free education at public expense for all Americans. We are failing miserably at that mission. Most native-born citizens could not pass the citizenship test given to immigrants who seek to become naturalized citizens. And it appears from recent presidential debates that not a few of those running for the nation’s highest office are familiar with our Constitution that if elected they would be swear to uphold. Our democracy is at risk not so much from people desperately risking their lives to cross our southern border, nor from those terrorists groups half a world away, but from ignorance from within that is racing like a killing virus through our population. Don’t get me wrong illegal immigrants and terrorist groups need attention, but unless the termites of ignorance are stopped before they bore holes in the very fabric of our country, there might not be much left once the illegals and terrorists get here.
The problem is serious enough that Sandra Day O’Connor a retired Supreme Court justice in 2009 launched an organization called iCivics. The purpose of the non-profit is to promote civics education among students by providing teachers with lesson plans, games and curricula to more than 100,000 registered teachers. Recently Justice Sonia Sotomayor has become a member of the organization’s Board of Directors.
With all this noise about testing in reading and math, you would thing someone would worry about an educated citizenry. No I am not talking about the foolishness of the government exams that ask how old does one have to be to run for governor. If I wanted to run for governor I would find out. Lots of people these days are jumping and shouting about their rights as citizens. I’m not hearing much about the responsibilities of citizens. If we are not careful, the government of the people and by the people just might perish from this earth.