Sparking an interest in civic engagement in today's youth

Cape Cod Community College forum brings together educators, politicians and students
Dr. Meira Levinson speaks at a League of Women Voters Cape Cod Chapter forum at Cape Cod Community College October 10. Photo by Katie Curran.

By Katie Curran

“Civic education revitalization is necessary because it’s rare,” keynote speaker Dr. Meira Levinson, an associate professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education, shared with attendees of the “Revitalizing Civic Education to Empower Youth” forum at Cape Cod Community College on Thursday, October 10.

The League of Women Voters presented this forum on civic revitalization. The League of Women Voters is a “nonpartisan grassroots political organization working at the national, state, and local level.” They co-sponsored it with Cape Cod Community College and the Cape Cod Foundation Youth Action Plan Coalition.

The scene was set this past week at the Tilden Arts Center at Cape Cod Community College as distinguished panelists discussed the engagement of youth in civics. The program began with keynote speaker Dr. Meira Levinson as she discussed her book “No Citizen Left Behind”, which argues that civic education efforts must be reshaped to engage young people. She informed the audience why she believes that “civic engagement is rare, poor, and unequal.”

Her presentation included an alarming report that in the 2012 election, there was a 41% overall voter turnout for young adults age 18 to 24. Dr. Levinson gave the audience an insight into the current state of civics education systems for youth and what a revitalized system would be like.

The current education plan in the Commonwealth is the Common Core Standards along with C3 frameworks. These academic foundations would guide future civic education work. Dr. Levinson concluded that an orderly civic education system would be “prompted by resources, motivation, and opportunity.” The good news is that most high schools on Cape Cod still have civics classes, however overall schools need to improve their civics curriculum.

The program continued with a dialogue led by panelists, which included: State Representative David Vieira; John Dickson a teacher at Harwich High School and Brewster Selectman Chairman; Michael McNamara a teacher at Nauset Regional High School and Patricia LeBoeuf, a student at Cape Cod Community College. Their discussion was focused on how to engage young people in developing their leadership skills.

I am very glad that I attended this forum, as it was very insightful and informative. I commend the speakers for their dedication and involvement with civic work for youth. I will return to my community as well as my school, Sturgis Charter School East, continuing my goal of inspiring my peers to become more informed and engaged citizens.

The next League of Women Voters’ program will be held on November 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm. This free program open to the public will be held in the Hermann Room of the Falmouth Public Library, 300 Main Street in Falmouth. The program will feature Jane Scarborough, an educator and attorney specializing in Constitutional Law.

Katie Curran is a sophomore at Sturgis Charter Public School in Hyannis. Katie is an editor for the news section of her school newspaper. She is a member of the Model United Nations, Student Council, and Key Club at Sturgis.

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