Demand improved civic education

Posted6/1/2013 5:00 AM

In response to "Batavia school board disciplines teacher after survey flap" on May 29, Illinoisans should be outraged. A social studies teacher who uses a relevant opportunity to discuss Fifth Amendment implications of students' taking a test administered by a government institution, which asks pointed questions about behavior that is criminalized, is the kind of teacher that our nation contemplated when it created a public school system to inform citizens of the then-newly implemented United States Constitution.

This kind of teacher should not be reprimanded, given a "letter of remedy" for his file, or suspended one day without pay. This kind of teacher should be recognized for making the Constitution relevant to young people's lives. In fact, we need more teachers inclined to make relevant the social contract that is our Constitution and that belongs to each and every one of us.


The school administration admitted it could have done better communicating with parents about the survey and the opportunity to opt out. Where is the corollary reprimand for them? Why was only one party to the action reprimanded?

The reprimand of the Batavia teacher is a timely topic. Governor Quinn has on his desk HB 2428, which creates a Task Force on Civic Education. If signed, public hearings will be held throughout Illinois to analyze the current state of civic education and identify best practices to substantially increase civic literacy among youth. If we want youth to have the requisite knowledge, skills and practices to be civically informed members, let's hope Gov. Quinn signs the bill -- and then all of us need to come out to the public hearings to share our outrage and demand better civic education for our students. Maryam Judar

Community lawyer

Citizen Advocacy Center


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