Hans Zeiger at American Purpose:

While we’re failing to teach civics and history to the next generation, we’re fully exposing our students to other aspects of political life that are filtered through social media and the saturated twenty-four-hour news cycle. Sadly, they are seeing the coarsest, most cynical aspects of American politics. To process information like this, young people—just like all of us—need a grounding in a sense of who they are. If people don’t have a common picture of certain foundational ideas and ideals in a highly pluralistic society like ours, we are at real risk of fracturing. Indeed, we see signs of fracturing all around us.

States should invest in professional development for teachers, and, in the case of civics and history, professional development should be focused on reading actual documents from American history and learning the best practices for teaching them. In the ten states where scholars affiliated with my organization, the Jack Miller Center, provide professional development for social studies teachers, we find teachers are eager to read and discuss America’s foundational texts. While teachers receive plentiful training in pedagogy in education schools, they receive far too little formal instruction in the teaching of primary sources. Fortunately, the Jack Miller Center is not alone in working to change this. The Bill of Rights Institute, the Ashbrook Center, the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, and the National Constitution Center are among the organizations providing high-quality professional development centered on America’s historical documents.