LWV Vermont to Take Action on Civics Education and Civic Engagement

Type: 
News

by Lynn Wurzburg and Kate Rader

The LWVVT will be working in the next two years to look into how civics/government is taught in Vermont, and how we might enhance it. In addition, to consider ways the League can educate and encourage civic participation by Vermonters of all ages. 

Last April the 2017 Quad States Conference addressed these questions. In one of the workshops, the words of Tess Kovach, Staff Writer for Ordinary Times, were cited: “Citizenship is a verb, it must be done, it requires effort, it requires us to all be democrats (with a small letter d). This means embracing and encouraging d ialogue. It means participating in our communities and civic gatherings, serving on committees and juries and councils, sharing our opinions publicly and being open to the crutiny other reasonable democrats might have of those very opinions. We are majestically bad at this, and probably getting entirely worse at it as a nation

“We need to fight for common things again. The intangible pieces that surround lus, lbut inevitably improve the quality of life for all people. Infrastructure, education, healthcare, reliable systems of justice and deliberation, health engagement on environmentall and resource issues, all the things that are too easy to leave to those with selfinterest at stake – they have to be balanced out with the participation of those with less immediate self interest. That’s the only way this will work.”

How might we accomplish this? We suggest a couple of ways here.

Government is Us Poster Campaign

Since the most recent presidential campaign, you may have noticed an increase in peoples’ negativity or outright rejection toward our government. We are treading dangerous ground when many believe that our democratic system should be scrapped. Or, that government has nothing to do with or for them. What is the antidote? Education, of course!

A low-tech, statewide poster campaign about the way our local and state government has improved VT citizens lives, by telling their stories, could help create an awareness about how the system benefits real people. The other goal is to demonstrate to citizens that the legislative process and elected officials are accessible to the average person and that in fact, Government is Us.

We need stories from around the state about actual VT citizens who have either gotten involved in the legislative process to achieve an end, or who were aided by elected officials to achieve an end that effected their lives in a positive way. Representation from different walks of life would resonate with more people. If you know of a farmer, student, veteran, elderly person, business person, or other with a story they’d be willing to tell us, please contact Lynn Wurzburg.  You may contact Lynn about this project on our website.

Teacher Professional Development

We recently filled a request from a high School teacher for our booklet A Walk throuth the Legislative Process in Vermont. She also asked if we have a professional development program in civics education.

As it happens, while we have not had such a program, we do have access to materials from other Leagues and appropriate videos from the LWVUS. If any of you would be interesting in developing such a program for Vermont teachers, please contact Sonja Schuyler or Kate Rader.  You may contact Sonja or Kate about this project through our website.

The hope is that our action on civics education and civic engagement can move our corner of the world toward participation in the citizenship verb. Join us in that effort. 

Issues referenced by this article: 
League to which this content belongs: 
Vermont