It's hard to protect what you don't know exists. Most Americans, at best, only have superficial knowledge of a few rules and rights from tv shows. How can something so incredibly fundamental and crucial to the health and strength of our Democracy not be required study by all Americans? Imagine how better grounded, informed, respectful and thoughtful people would be regarding the politics, laws, and regulations they hear about in the news and that effect their lives. Do politicians and big business have vested interests and influence in keeping citizens dumb about the contents of the Consitution and the Bill of Rights?
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The question is quite biased towards "politicians and big business have vested interests and influence in keeping citizens dumb", as the context is much more complicated.
- Teaching politics, laws and regulation is only partially school's job, according to this article and does not seem to get lower as time passes:
[..] that schools are still teaching civics as much as or more than ever before. The amount of time devoted to social studies in elementary and middle school has remained pretty constant over the years, he says, and the amount of time devoted to social studies in high school is up substantially, although the mix of courses has changed appreciably since the 1950s. Civics and problem- or discussion-oriented classes are less common today than they were in the 1950s, he says, but political science, economics and social studies classes are more common.
That’s not to suggest that all is rosy [..] Teaching civics is only partly the job of the schools. Other providers of such teaching—newspapers, unions, membership organizations and community groups— aren’t taking up the slack. People are sorting themselves into more politically and ideologically homogenous communities than they used to, he says. And the gap between the haves and the have-nots when it comes to opportunities for civic engagement is bad and getting worse.
- How much politics is fine in schools is not a settled subject, according to this article
Do politics belong in the classroom at all, or should schools be safe havens from never-ending partisan battles? Can teachers use controversial issues as learning opportunities, and, if so, to teach what? And then, the really sticky question: Should teachers share with students their own political viewpoints and opinions?
Why people are not engaged in politics is somehow involved by your question. The school might be only one of the factors to influence this outcome, as explained here:
- negative perception of politics: [..] while, 'democracy' remains an incredibly positive notion, 'politics' is a dirty word to the public.
- disillusionment with the current political system
- somewhat lack of popularity: Politics has never been popular and never will be: It is about conflict and about power. It will always disappoint someone.
- unattractive language: the language used by senior politicians in the media is absolutely dire: There seems very little effort by the media to explain political decisions, rather than just jumping on any perceived gaffe or conflict.
- Rational ignorance (refraining from acquiring knowledge when the cost of educating oneself on an issue exceeds the potential benefit that the knowledge would provide) - if one perceives that his/her individual vote counts less, they will have less incentive to spend any time actually learning any details about the candidate(s).
So, there is much more context to politics issue within education than just evil politicians and businesses.