Understanding Civics and Citizenship

Posted by Brenda Yoho

Teaching civics should entail our political, social, and economic systems. It is essential to teach our students about their rights and responsibilities as citizens. In addition, helping to provide students with ways they can engage with the political process through voting, service, and volunteering. Tuesday, November 8, 2022, is Election Day, and I am writing this post on that date. I hope we are teaching students about the process without biases. We teach children how to think, not what to think.

In the article, I read, “not even one-fourth of teachers rank knowledge of political and civic institutions as a top-three concern. Does not even half think promoting knowledge of citizens’ rights and responsibilities makes the top three?! Barely 1 in 10 think it’s important that students be able to articulate their beliefs?”

The information in the article has a couple more data points I find alarming. It mentions that only 26 percent of Americans can name the three branches of our government, and 1 of 3 Americans can pass the citizenship test.


Our school days are packed with many things we require teachers to teach, and a yearly report is published to demonstrate where students are regarding their learning. Class sizes, in many cases, are large, resources in many locations are limited, and shortages in certified staff have intensified over the last several years.

Student needs have changed. Our families have changed. The communities in which students and families reside have changed. Schools have also changed regarding the items previously stated and more.


Take a step back and look at the school day. Look at the results of the core foundational skills students need to grow in a fast-paced environment of continuous learning, change and growth. If our students are not reading or doing math at grade level, we have failed them. Students must work in reading and math at or above grade-level standards. When I state we have failed them, it does not rest on the shoulders of education alone. Families, students, and communities share this responsibility as well.

Reading and Math are the two basic foundational skills in their educational journey. Thinking critically is an important skill and is utilized a great deal in many areas, but Science is one area it finds to be a place to practice. Social Studies is where at an early age, Civics and Citizenship can begin to be introduced. This skill set does not have to wait until a class in high school to start to have a love for the country, understand how it works, and begin to appreciate what we have.


It is easy to point out a problem, identify an individual or group to blame, and then throw a solution to “fix it.” However, we have repeated this cycle many decades before, and the results are clear today. Generations have now progressed through a system of schools, families, and communities that have not prioritized the importance of the problems identified. We have placed patches on things to get us through another election cycle.

Reflect for a few moments on what you have just read.


Politicized is the word I have used to describe education for over a decade. It probably has been this way longer; it just took me longer to realize. Politics plays a role in all areas, like our families and communities. I am seeing it come between families and friends; communities are suffering from violence and crime.

It is past the time for everyone to stop seeking more power, looking to see which party is better than the other, and decide the United States is worth working together to improve all of our areas so we can overcome all of the shortcomings we have currently so we can build up, make up and stand up for our foundation together. Get involved in a positive way—volunteer at schools, community groups, and churches and help to build up. Make up where skills, needs, and supports are wanted by giving monetary donations, food, clothing, or time. Stand up to voice your opinion on issues, beliefs, and values that are important to you by writing letters, articles, and blogs and calling and emails to politicians and media outlets.

Together we can, United we are, The United States of America.

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2023 Brenda Yoho
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