Justice Boehm is exactly correct: Civic education has been on a decline in Indiana and throughout the country for decades, due to our desire to compete scientifically and technologically with nations like the former Soviet Union [Boehm: Civic education is necessary to maintain our republic, Jan. 16]. The side effects of the emphasis on science and math have been an overall de-emphasis of civic education.
Therefore, we should pay heed to the proven effectiveness of educational programs like We the People. A 2014-15 study by Georgetown University confirmed that We the People students were not only more knowledgeable than their peers on how our government works, but they also displayed higher levels of civic engagement (voting, serving on juries, etc.). Thankfully, the Indiana General Assembly has strongly supported the program’s funding in recent years.
Ultimately, I agree with Justice Boehm that we can’t expect schools alone to foster the type of civic literacy that is so desperately needed in our society today. As former Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Learned Hand once said, “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.” We the people are ultimately accountable for our own civic engagement.
Collin Gruver, director of civic education programs
Indiana Bar Foundation