While I agree that the state of civics education is “woeful” (“Require high school civics test”), requiring students to pass the US citizenship test is a dubious means to address this problem. Learning civics from a textbook is like learning how to drive by reading the owner’s manual of your car. Instead, we should give young people the opportunity to get behind the wheel and experience democracy firsthand.
Programs and curriculums such as Generation Citizen and Project Citizen, to name a few, are great models. The state education department could provide resources and professional development to schools and annually measure their civic climate based on implementation of proven, best practices in civics education.
The writer was a member of the Legislature’s Special Commission on Civic Engagement and Learning and has more than a decade of experience promoting civic education in the Boston area.