Senator Cornyn previews the road ahead on civics reform in Hatch Center webinar

This week, the Hatch Center—the policy arm of the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation—hosted a symposium with Senator John Cornyn to highlight commonsense solutions to our nation’s civics crisis. Joining Senator Cornyn was David Davenport of Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Together, they discussed prospects for the bipartisan Civics Secures Democracy Act and outlined a blueprint to restore civics to its proper place in our education system.

“We need to return the teaching of civics and history to our classrooms so every child can grow up knowing what it means to be an American,” said Senator Cornyn during the webinar. “The job of [civic] education is not to teach students what to think but to teach them how to think … The game plan for fixing civics should not be emanating from Washington alone. The best thing [Congress] can do is empower initiatives and creative thinking on the state level.”

“By restoring civic education to its proper place in our schools, we can revitalize our democracy and preserve the American experiment for future generations,” said Hatch Foundation Executive Director Matt Sandgren. “That’s why the Hatch Foundation has made saving civics among its top priorities. The seeds of division and dysfunction now undermining our society were sown—at least in part—by decades of neglect in the area of civic education.  To address this crisis, we joined Senator John Cornyn and David Davenport in calling for an all-hands-on-deck effort to recenter civics at the heart of America’s public schools.

“There’s no single solution to the civics problem, but the classroom is the best place to start,” said the Hoover Institution’s David Davenport during the webinar. “We need to have state legislatures increase the civics requirements in our schools. [These requirements] have really declined in the last forty years … . Civics has largely been pushed out of the curriculum by STEM, by reading and math testing, and by other priorities. So we need to restore the priority of civics and have it taught more deeply and more often in our schools.”

After the event, Matt Sandgren—the Hatch Foundation’s Executive Director—appeared on KSL’s Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson to discuss the main takeaways from the webinar and next steps for civic education reform.

·      To listen to a recording of this interview, click here.

·      To watch the webinar in its entirety, click here.

Background

This event marked nearly one year since the publication of the first Hatch Center Policy Review: Commonsense Solutions to Our Civics Crisis. This nonpartisan report establishes strong links between poor civic education and a number of ills plaguing our democracy, including depressed civic engagement, low trust in institutions, and decreasing faith in the free market. The report has gained so much national attention among think tanks that it is now known simply as “the Hatch Report.” The Hatch Foundation’s central mission is to promote civility and solutions in the public square, and revitalizing civic education is a key part of that mission.