“LAW IN YOUR LIFE”
“How Public Education Can Use Civics Courses as a Way to Make Our Students Better Citizens”
Kristen Morrow, Attorney
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Chair, The Missouri Bar Advisory Committee on Citizenship Education
Question 1. We hear about how the U.S. compares to other nations in math and science education—how are we doing in civics education?
Question 2. Kristen, I remember when I was an 8th grader, we had to take the Constitution test to see if we could graduate and go on to high school. We were all scared about that test. Is that what educators mean when they talk about civics education?
Question 3. You are a former government teacher—I am a former alderwoman and mayor, and so I also believe that it is a 2-way street. Government is for everyone, but there has to be that buy-in on both sides. There has to be that participation from both sides so that it’s more than just rote memorization of the Constitution—it’s about how to apply that in a real-world application.
Question 4. (For instance) To know how to talk to your alderperson—or to know how to ask about street repairs—or how to talk to your city administrator about how to file a complaint. There are many things to know. It’s (civics) about more than learning all the rules of the Constitution.
Question 5. And it is so easy to say “they” quote-unquote…. “Well, they haven’t done this.” You might, as a citizen be complaining about the wrong department (if you don’t know civics).
Question 6. Kristen, you are the chair of the Advisory Committee on Citizenship Education for the Missouri Bar. Why is The Missouri Bar involved in supporting civics education in our public schools?
Question7. What can adults do if they recognize that they weren't paying attention during social studies class and they really don't know much about the principles and structure of our government?
Question 8. In this day and age, it’s not always easy to say, “Well I’ll just go attend a city council meeting.”
Question 9. As a former elected official myself, it always concerned me when people would say, “Can I attend the city council meeting?” It’s open to everyone—it’s your government. You have a right to be there. And if you can’t be there, electronically there are web pages, all minutes are open to the public—and ask to see the minutes, read them online, and then email your elected official and say, “I didn’t understand that vote”…or “Explain how we arrived at that topic on that particular meeting.” They should be knowledgeable.