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Civics in Schools: Richard Dreyfuss and a Former U.S. Senator Have the Same Goal

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Actor Richard Dreyfuss is in the media limelight today for his interest in creating a curriculum to teach civics to students in grades K-12. Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, a Democrat from Florida, has a similar interest in seeing civics stressed more in schools and in colleges and recently wrote a book, America, The Owner's Manual, on how this can happen. He wants to see youths get engaged in politics.

Dreyfuss characterizes civics as "political power." He fears that the nation's young don't understand well the origins of the United States and would like his new curriculum to help them learn about and appreciate it, according to the Associated Press.

Graham wants American youngsters to know how they can make a difference in society, according to a press release I got about his book. The former senator taught civics at Miami Carol City Senior High School in 1974.

I wonder if either of these two have studied the last presidential election for clues about how to get young people more engaged in politics. We had a fair amount of coverage here at Education Week about how youths were particularly interested in the election process. I got the impression that schools weren't exactly the catalyst.

But it seems that it's not too late for schools to capitalize on some of that engagement by building more civics lessons into their curricula.

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We always sk that people participate in current affairs and getting involved in current politics while forgetting to learn the basic tools of civic expertise. We need to create a firm foundation in the maintenance of the Republic, why we have it, and where it came from. Saying we should get involved before we know what options we hve, what's right and what's wrong, is premature, and breeds that feeling of being manipulated that turns off more people than it brings in.

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