Thursday, June 6, 2019

The importance of civic education

GSCCC staff and volunteers gathered to watch the
livestream on civic education

Guest blog written by GSCCC Marketing and Communication Intern Rebecca Schamel.

I attended a viewing of a livestream event called “Preparing the Next Generation of Informed and Engaged Citizens.”  The purpose of this event was to stress the need for more education in the field of civics to our young people so they will have a better understanding of how government works and how they can be involved.  After-school programs such as Girl Scouts, can offer girls a way to learn more about civics and the importance of being well informed about local, state, and national government.
The livestream event had an amazing panel of bipartisan women. Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, was the moderator.  In addition, there were four other panelists to give voice to the importance of civics in our society and schools. Panelist included: Secretary of the U.S. Senate Laura Dove, who started her career as a page and held other positions until she became the Republican Secretary in 2003; New York Attorney General Letitia James, the 67th attorney general for the state. James was the first African American woman to hold citywide office in New York. James is an advocate for the city’s most vulnerable communities.  Chief Education Officer at iCivics Dr. Emma Humphries, is helping children become interested in learning about civics through interactive and engaging learning resources. Gold Award Girl Scout Lauren Hoaglund was the final person on the panel.  She has been involved with Girl Scouts since the third grade and she created a Gold Award project to educate middle and high school students about civics. She hoped this project would inform them about government and encourage them to consider running for office someday.
According to the Annenberg Public Policy Center, only 32 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government, and 33% of Americans cannot name any branches of government.  Panel members agreed that this must change.  Youth and adults need to understand the issues that affect our lives, our communities, and our nation. Chelsea Clinton said, “For a long time I have been concerned about some of the statistics you have heard about earlier.”  She pointed out this affected those who had been excluded from government; indigenous Americans, people of color, girls and women.

She went on to say, “The Girl Scouts are leaders, risk takers, and innovators. We empower girls and women with a robust civics education and toolkit.” She told the story that at age three she was at one of her father’s campaign rallies, waving the American flag and handing out stickers. “Because that is what you can do when you are 3 or 4 years old.”

Gold Award Girl Scout Sofia Richardson said, “I’m excited to be here today to learn more about how civic education prepares girls like me to be active participants in our government and to stand up for issues that we care about in our communities.  At Girl Scouts when girls learn about the role government plays in our lives, we are empowered to make positive changes and fill a responsibility to our country and its’ future.”

As a college student, I think it is very important to know how civics affects everyone. Through civic education, girls can learn how important it is to vote, community issues, and get to know the people who run for office.