Preparing young people to be responsible citizens is one of the main reasons for having a public education system. When America was in its infancy, Thomas Jefferson argued the need for public education.
Today, profound social, cultural, and technological transformations are reasons students still need to be prepared for civic life. According to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, one of the purposes of civic education is to “foster civic competence and responsibility.”
Adding American history and government, critical thinking, media literacy, and digital literacy to high school curriculum better ensures that students are prepared for life in today’s diverse society. Teaching students how to think rather than only what to think, moves their understanding beyond the facts of government as laid out in the Bill of Rights —“ you have the right to vote,” — to the reality that everyone has the duty to seek out the truth.
Voting is more than walking into a designated voting precinct, selecting a few options, touching the “Vote” button and getting “I Voted” sticker. Voting comes with responsibility of knowing the issues and how candidates stand on those issues.
Metro Councilman Russ Pulley introduced a resolution before the full council requesting registrars, registrar forms and registrar training in Metro Nashville Public High Schools to increase youth voter participation. The resolution stated: “Davidson County officials need to improve the efficiency of the conduct of local elections by providing a better educational process to the voting public.
“To help students become civically informed and engaged citizens, every graduate must take at least half a year of a government course. Under- standing their voting rights as an integral element of a fully developed civics education, will encourage increased voter turnout, which is conducive to a high-functioning democracy.”
The resolution also states: “that the Metropolitan County Council hereby goes on record as requesting that administrators of all public and private high schools of Davidson County assist the Davidson County Election Commission in the registration of eligible students to vote. That the Council requests the Davidson County Election Commission offer two training sessions specifically for teachers, one during the month of August and one in September. Information regarding the time and date of both sessions must be sent to the administrations of every Davidson County high school by August 1 of every year. Teachers who opt to register will be excused from school for a day of training.”