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The Bill Of Rights As A Rap Song?

Wednesday, May. 4, 2011

My kids learned about civics because I was an elected official, but the lessons they remember are from the songs featured in “Schoolhouse Rock.” A particularly catchy tune is called “How a bill becomes a law,” and a recent internet search shows the step-by-step legislative process put to music has been also been recorded as a rap song, included in a number of parodies, and appears in a number of YouTube videos.

Apparently that’s not making much of a difference to today’s students, since a recent poll shows that “fewer than half of America’s eighth graders knew the purpose of the Bill of Rights.” In fact, according to the New York Times, “only one in 10 demonstrated acceptable knowledge of the checks and balances among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.’

The test results were so shocking that former Supreme Court Justice said “we have a crisis on our hands when it comes to civics education.” O’Connor has established the non-profit,  designed to use Web-based games and other tool to engage students.

In California, where Charles Quigley leads the Center for Civic Education, “the results confirm an alarming and continuing trend that civics in America is in decline.” The problem, he says, seems to be “educational policy and practice appear to have focused more on developing the worker at the expense of developing the citizen.”

How can the trend be reversed? Do you think there is another subject that should be dropped in favor of civics lessons? Are there ways outside the classroom that could teach how government works?

Tags: Bill of Rights, civics education

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