A: In over half the states in the union, civics education is not required. The only reason we have public school education in America is because in the early days of the country, our leaders thought we had to teach our young generation about citizenship ... that obligation never ends. If we don’t take every generation of young people and make sure they understand that they are an essential part of government, we won’t survive. We don’t teach our own kids. It’s insane.
How is iCivics promoting its agenda nationwide?
We have to start with each state and head of education in each state. We could have a trickle-down effect. I’m not sure in my own state we have the same sense of dedication and urgency [as in other states]. It takes some leadership. We’re trying to do it via iCivics and chairpeople to promote civics education in every state.
For Congress and state lawmakers pledging more budget cuts and austerity measures, can civics be a cost-free — or nearly cost-free — proposition?
None of it has to cost more than a dime or more than states are already spending. We have to make sure that the teachers [social studies, history, etc.] are going be integrated into civic education. It’s not that we need additional money; we need a focus, a requirement, a concern. You don’t need legislation; you need a commitment. That should be the objective of every high school and middle school in America.
I know your judicial approach to federalism was conscious of the appropriate divide of jurisdiction, but many civics activists believe that, without a systematic approach, isolated solutions will not cure the problem. Do you agree?
[No.] We are taking a state-based approach. That’s why we have tried to get chairmen and women in every state’s government who are dedicated and enthused about civics.
Do you intend for iCivics programs/games to be permanently free for the use of public and private schools and their students?
ICivics’ games and lesson plans will remain free.
As a public servant who has served in local, statewide and federal office, you are, no doubt, a perfectly suited civics advocate.
I can’t look back and say how exactly it happened. It happened to be the sum total, somehow or another, of my work. As a citizen and participant, I really got active when I came back to Arizona and became a precinct committeewoman gathering signatures for candidates.