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Souter connects political polarization with civic ignorance

Posted by on October 27, 2015 in In The News - 2 Comments
Retired Supreme Court justice David Souter recently discussed the urgent need for improved civics education with students in New Hampshire

Retired Supreme Court justice David Souter recently discussed the urgent need for improved civics education with students in New Hampshire.

Civic education in America continues its decline.  Its causes and effects were recently addressed at Nashua Community College by retired Supreme Court justice David Souter and former U.S. Senator Judd Gregg.  New Hampshire Public Radio covered the talk which was part of a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the New Hampshire presidential primary.  Souter tried to simplify the crisis with a sports analogy stating, “If you go to a baseball game and you don’t know what the rules of the game are, it’s incomprehensible.” Souter blamed the decline in civics education in part to the “No Child Left Behind” reforms and the emphasis on testing.  “For every hour that is taken away from that kind of teaching that goes into civics, there is a risk for lower test scores,” Souter reasoned.  Social media further threatens an understanding of civics since the internet rarely provides “thoughtful discussions on complex issues,” Gregg said, “you get shouting.”  Casey McDermott, digital reporter for NHPR, said that Souter was a little reluctant to weigh in directly on political questions, since he still serves as a judge, while Gregg was more blunt.  In regard to the current state of public discourse and understanding, Souter warned “If we do nothing about it, and we maintain the present level of civic ignorance, there is a serious question as to whether, fifty years from now, we are going to have a recognizable democracy in the United States.”  Gregg was worried that campaigns succeed or fail based upon their one-liners, rather than upon real substance.  Holly Ramer, Associated Press, reported on Gregg’s belief that low voter turnout and a broken primary system lead to a “scorched earth” political climate.  Overall, TeenJury strongly agrees with the urgent need for increased civic awareness and we encourage teens to take an interest in the presidential campaign.  Watch a debate and tell us what you think.

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