Opinion: Support teaching civics in middle school

PHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
We support A3394/S854 to provide a civics course for middle school pupils in New Jersey public schools. We urge the NJ Assembly Education Committee to approve this legislation.
The League of Women Voters has spent 100 years empowering voters and defending democracy. Most people agree that Americans should know how our democracy functions, but a recent Annenberg Center survey reports that 60% of Americans can’t name the three branches of government. In New Jersey, only 39% of school districts require all students to take a civics course in any grade.
Ignorance provides a breeding ground for rumor, false information and fear, as we witnessed on Jan. 6, when an armed mob attacked the Capitol, the seat of our democracy. To reduce ignorance, we turn to our schools. A3394/S854 would provide instruction on the principles underlying the American system of constitutional democracy, the function and limitations of government and the role of citizens in democratic society.
A well-designed civics course teaches facts, enables students to examine current events and learn how to voice their opinion on local, state and national issues. And students who take a civics course are more likely to engage in community-building activities.
Support civics education. Approve A3394/S854.
Nicole Plett and Marcia Steinberg
League of Women Voters of Lawrence Township
Civics Education Committee
Lawrence Township