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PNS Daily Newscast - December 14, 2017 


GOP leaders reach an agreement on their tax bill, we have a report on the likely squeeze on state and local revenues; also on our nationwide rundown; should ex-felons have the right to vote or own guns? And we will clue you in on the most dangerous place to drive this holiday season.

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Expert Says Civics Education Will Improve Our Democracy

A new report suggests more civics education in American schools is part of the solution to the current divide in the country. (Pixabay)
A new report suggests more civics education in American schools is part of the solution to the current divide in the country. (Pixabay)
September 29, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Researchers are issuing a dire warning with a hint of hope - our republic is at risk, but solutions can be found, in Arkansas and across the nation.

Dr. Peter Levine, an associate dean at Tufts University, says an increasing number of Americans say they dislike or even loathe people who support different political views than their own. Deep distrust of institutions - from the federal government to organized religion and public schools - is also increasing. Levine explains what's at risk if these divisions continue.

"Falling apart; our basic political institutions not functioning or not functioning nearly adequately, and our people becoming increasingly polarized and angry at each other, to the point where we're not really governable," he explains.

Levine co-authored a new report that says part of the solution is to require more students to take courses on civics, government, law and related topics to ensure they're better informed and more likely to vote. The report notes Arkansas does have a framework for civics and social studies classes, and has also added a requirement that students take the Immigration and Naturalization Service's "New Citizen Exam."

Levine notes that large civic associations that were more popular in the 20th century - such as organized religion and unions - have given way to narrower agendas. As challenging as things are now, he's convinced there's reason to be hopeful.

"I think the way forward is through the next generation," he says. "There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about them, their idealism and their openness to a variety of views. But I do think we need to educate them better than we do now for citizenship. And so, if we do that, then I'm pretty optimistic in the long run."

The report includes a chart that summarizes the key civic learning policies in each state and pinpoints what the research team sees as the areas of greatest need.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AR