We’ve all seen the late night TV shows that feature regular Americans who can’t name a national political figure, or what the Bill of Rights does. As unrealistic as it seems, one-third of Americans cannot name even one branch of government, according to a recent Anneberg Public Policy Center survey. This lack of civic understanding may not seem urgent on a day-to-da
y basis, but it comes at a greater cost: less knowledge of basic civic functions leads to lower trust, and ultimately, low engagement.
The civic health program area of Civic Nebraska is aimed at deepening our understanding of, and confidence in, these institutions. One such program is the Capitol Experience Day, which brings middle and high school students to the state capitol for an immersive day in state government. By meeting with a state senator, Nebraska Supreme Court justice, and a member of the executive branch of state government, students get a firsthand look at their government. Another big part of any Capitol Experience Day is exploring their role as citizens with a mock committee hearing.
This Constitution Day, take five minutes to honor the Framers’ work by deepening your understanding of the civic health in your community. Read the 2015 Nebraska Civic Health Index, discuss politics with your family and friends, or reach out to a local leader to share your idea for a community improvement project.