David Wippman.

“Too many Americans know little history and less civics, but efforts to correct those deficits have collapsed because of partisan differences over what should be taught and why,” President David Wippman and Cornell Professor of American Studies Glenn Altschuler stated in the opening of their recent op-ed titled “Getting to ‘Yes’ on civics education.”

 In the piece, which was published by The Hill on March 19, they wrote, “In the absence of a consensus on a one-size-fits-all curriculum, the most feasible approach is to empower school districts, individual schools, departments, and teachers to improve students’ understanding of our governing principles, institutions, and history, and enhance their ability to ‘create a more perfect Union’ by enabling them to evaluate multiple perspectives on difficult issues, with engaging pedagogies.” The authors offered alarming statistics revealing young Americans’ lack of civic knowledge, and also reviewed the limited number of civics classes offered in schools across the country and the disagreements between the two parties on how this education should be structured. They noted that, “For decades, levels of civic engagement have been declining, with fewer Americans participating in community organizations, unions, and religious institutions.”

In response to this current state of affairs, Wippman and Altschuler suggested that “The goal should be not only to teach students the basics of civics and American history, but also to inculcate ‘the skills and virtues for productive civil disagreement.’”

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