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Texas Matters: Civics Class Didn't Prepare Us For Trumpism

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Chelsea Beck | NPR

In the days after the presidential election with no immediate clear winner many of us tried to find comfort in recalling lessons learned in our civics, government or social studies classes from many years ago.

We were supposed to have been armed with the knowledge of how our constitutional democracy works. And that we have a system that is fair, transparent and will reflect the will of the people, however through the process of the Electoral College.

But is that what is happening? Something seems amiss. Also out of whack is how our government sputtered during the years of the Donald Trump presidency when norms, traditions and laws were trampled on.

In the civics classrooms today students are coming to their teachers with questions about these current events.

Sarah Schwartz writes about this for Education Week. She co-authored with Madeline Will the article, “Election Uncertainty and Anxious Students: Inside 4 Social Studies Classrooms.”

The fact that many in the nation are having disagreements about democratic process may be an indication that there could a failure in how we teach civics, government and social studies. We can’t even agree on one name for this core subject.

Instead of civil discussions and attempts to find compromise there are bad faith political actors who are resorting to lies and violence to push their political positions.

It was in the classroom where most of us learned the basic ideas of American government and what the Red, White and Blue flag is supposed to represent.

So, how do we teach civics in the classroom today and does it need a boost or a reform to restore trust in democracy, the Constitution and our elections?

We speak with Dean Antonio Cantu who is the associate dean at the ​Department of Education, Counseling, and Leadership at Bradley University and is the Executive Director, Illinois Council for the Social Studies.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi