Rising together through
better civics education

Will Johnson

“When kids understand civics, it really helps them to be a better citizen."

“My wife and I talk to our kids about our family history. We are descendants from immigrants who were able to build something like so many other immigrants did. We also talk about my grandparents’ and my wife’s grandparents’ military service. The more they can see where they came from, the more they will have the ability to build on that moving forward, to give their kids a better life knowing where they came from.”

“I’ve always believed it’s important to pass on a sense of the American idea and how it’s only ever one generation away from extinction. Kids need to understand the impact it would have if the American idea didbecome extinct. Once you have your own kids, you feel that even more so.”

“I have three boys – nine, seven and four – who are in a charter school partly because of how they teach history and civics. I’m also involved in a grassroots parent group that, like others around the country, is saying ‘we own our kids’ education and moral formation.’” 

“Parents should be confident kids aren’t being taught one thing at home and learning something else at school. Partnership and collaboration are based on transparency and trust. I think that’s at the foundation of any good education system, and I think that’s something that’s really lacking today. Instead, we’re seeing schools trying to wedge themselves between the parent and child. 

“There are two different world views on how we are going to teach our kids about history and the American idea. One leads to tearing our fabric apart and one doesn’t overlook or try to whitewash history, but teaches history in a way that is more unifying, which we desperately need. 

“Parents aren’t saying ‘don’t teach about the evils of slavery.’ They’re saying ‘absolutely teach about them, but also teach about people like Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr. – these great examples of people overcoming huge obstacles to thrive in America. Teach how we’ve been able to better fulfill that American promise that Frederick Douglass talks about.’

“That’s something that should inspire all of us.”

“The American story is not about perfection, but about the progress we have made by more fully living up to our founding principles. It should be taught in a way that helps kids understand what to preserve and what to pass on. We shouldn’t be too quick to transform those principles, to tear down and start again because this idea of America is incredibly rare. This is not the normal state of the world, and I think it’s important for kids to appreciate and preserve that.” 

“It’s the best form of government we’ve been able to find so far. If we don’t have that knowledge and appreciation of civics, active citizens won’t be able to preserve and improve and we’d be less able to resist the forces that want to transform it.

“When kids understand civics, it really helps them to be a better citizen. It teaches them the knowledge their rights don’t come from the government – they’re inalienable rights and the government should represent them rather than decree from on high.” 

“Our culture today is bereft of gratitude. When you don’t have gratitude as a part of an appreciation for the past and for the sacrifices people made to give you the life that you have, it leads to a less fulfilling life, a less happy life in general. It also means people have fewer things they can really preserve and pass on in a way that continues to make progress for our country. Gratitude is woven throughout the importance of all of this.”

Will Johnson
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

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Linda Lee Tarver

"We don't need theories, we need truth – and civics preaches the truth.”


"A strong civics education creates leaders for tomorrow who believe in what makes us special and different."

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