Published: October 9th, 2013
“A bipartisan group of distinguished scholarly experts from diverse disciplines and institutions, the Commission [on Youth Voting and Civic Knowledge] was convened by CIRCLE to study aspects of youth political engagement. The report, which was presented on October 9 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., is a detailed yet wide-ranging look at the current state of civic education, informed voting, and political engagement of the nation’s youth. It is based, in part, on data collected for the Commission from more than 6,000 young adults and 720 high school civics or government teachers, and an analysis of all states’ voting and education laws.
The report highlights some of the Commission’s previously released findings, but also presents brand-new findings that further shed light on these issues, such as:
- Non-college youth had a lower 2012 voter turnout in states with photo-ID laws, while same-day registration improved overall youth turnout.
- Attending racially diverse high schools predicted lower levels of electoral engagement and informed voting.
- Only eight states include social studies in their assessments of school performance, and only 10 states require civics or government teachers to be certified in those subjects.
- Nearly a quarter of civics or government teachers surveyed believe parents or other adults would object to “bringing politics” into their classrooms.
The report also outlines some of the most pressing challenges to improving civic education and engagement, and recasts them as opportunities that can and should be seized. The dearth of inspiring and effective forms of civic education for disadvantaged young people highlights the need to improve K-12 civics that reaches everyone and promotes equality. Civic discussions and debates are more difficult in diverse settings, but teaching youth to deliberate and collaborate with peers of different backgrounds is a critical civic skill. Online media can lead to greater polarization if young people only see and share content from like-minded sources, but social networks are also powerful tools for engagement, dialogue, and constructive interactions.”
-Commission on Youth Voting and Civic Knowledge