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US High Schools Just Don’t Understand Politics

The results of the 2016 National Assessment of Educational Progress show that nearly 75% of all high school schools fail to understand how the US government works. Compared to the results of a similar study conducted five years ago, test scores fell by 3%. Students were asked questions related to the three branches of government as well as rights and responsibilities of US citizens. Statistically, Hispanic students showed the most progress. Between 2010 and 2016, Hispanic students increased their basic scores by 12%.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor believes that high school and elementary school instructors are failing to teach students the basic principles of government. This trend has been in effect for the past few decades, and it appears that the public school system is completely inept. Students that are able to get private tutoring or those who excel in other areas of study are more likely to understand how the US government works. Even so, 78% of eighth graders do not understand even the most basic fundamentals of civics.

Some lawmakers believe that parents can do a better job of educating their own children, however, most adult US citizens fail to understand how the government works either. Most adults simply listen to the political news stories that reported by the parties that they represent. Factual and statistical errors are relayed on both sides, making it difficult for neutral and biased parties alike to get the background that they need to form educated opinions. Perhaps everyone in the US needs to take a political refresher course.

To give you an example:

Umatilla County School District Closes Only Alternative High School

Alternative high schools which enroll at-risk youths have a major impact on the education that troubled kids get. When a student creates numerous distractions, behaves violently or is found to have engaged in illegal activities outside of school, usually, he or she is sent to an alternative school. Legally, children aged 16 years and older can be signed out of school by their parents. Although there are penalties for parents that do not force their children to attend school, rarely are the rules enforced.

In the case of Hilltop Junior-Senior High School in Umatilla County, Oregon, at-risk high school students will probably not be able to graduate. Without a proper education, children that have had issues at home and school are more than three times as likely to commit crimes and be imprisoned as adults. In Hermiston, Oregon, life is simple, most adults go to work and the unemployment is on the low end when compared to national averages. The good news is that these alternative high school students will have the opportunity to resume learning in the fall, however, they may not be able to get the same level of individualized attention and care.

In a town where most residents are on a first name basis, these students have already been marked with the proverbial scarlet letter. It will be more difficult for them to get jobs in Hermiston as they have been associated with negative activities, and if they aren’t able to graduate and go on to college, their futures will be all but sealed.