I'm openly questioning whether or not schools across this commonwealth, now that they're expected to teach civic lessons under a recently passed state law, can check the politics at the door when it comes to encouraging students to participate in democracy with a small "d?"

The school administrators I've spoken with are adamant that teachers can be non-partisan. But then, I see recent student walkouts in Boston, organized by activist groups like Violence in Boston, Inc., and walkouts backed by union groups, and I think these aren't exactly harbingers of non-partisanship activities.

One of the primary reasons our nation's founders envisioned a vast public education system was to prepare youth to be active participants in our system of self-government. Nowadays, we can hardly get each citizen to vote, but civics teaches that the responsibilities go far beyond casting a vote. It's about teaching our youth to protect the common good and that requires developing students' critical thinking, debate skills and engaging in local issues.

Today's students want to learn civics. In fact, a group of students in Rhode Island are suing the governor and state education officials in federal court, just to ensure they can get a proper education in civics.

 

Which leads me to wonder if today's students could even pass the U.S. citizenship exam before graduating from high school?

It's a touchy topic whether or not schools can teach civics without any political spin. Can they stay non-partisan? We'll soon find out.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.