- Writing that "civic education has fallen by the wayside," Chief Justice John Roberts noted in the Supreme Court's 2019 year-end report what the federal court system is doing to contribute to students’ knowledge of how government works.
- "Classroom-ready" materials, teacher training resources and opportunities for students to participate in mock proceedings are among the efforts led by the judiciary’s administration. Roberts also highlighted how some appellate courts have made courthouses "available as forums for civic education."
- "Civic education, like all education, is a continuing enterprise and conversation," he wrote. "Each generation has an obligation to pass on to the next, not only a fully functioning government responsive to the needs of the people, but the tools to understand and improve it."
The chief justice’s comments come as recent international test results show teens in the U.S. — and across the world — are not showing proficiency on tasks asking them to recognize the difference between fact and opinion. Other studies have also shown U.S. students are easily misled by online content.
“In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public’s need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital,” Roberts wrote.
Civics education — or the inconsistent access to it across districts in Rhode Island — is also the key issue in a federal class action lawsuit argued last month before the U.S Circuit Court in that state.
Roberts noted retired justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics, which takes a video game approach, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s work to further the program as additional efforts to teach civics through a medium students enjoy. State courts are also supporting students’ knowledge of the legal system. The Ohio Supreme Court, for example, recently introduced a curriculum for high school students that focuses on court cases relevant to teens’ lives.