The Massachusetts Legislature may have stumbled upon something that could have a positive impact on future generations. But, it could also be a disaster if not administered properly.

The Senate has advanced several bills, one of which would incorporate civics education into public schooling, including a requirement for students to complete a civics project to graduate. Details of what that project might entail are still vague. The legislation seeks to have all public schools "prepare students, morally and intellectually, for the duties of citizenship." That includes learning about the U.S. and Massachusetts Constitutions, flag etiquette and the "importance of participation in the electoral process."

Supporters--and there are many--say the bill could help to reduce the polarization that exists in American politics. We'll see. Senate Democrats beat back an amendment offered by Minority Leader Bruce Tarr that would have required any civics lessons to include "respectful tolerance of differing opinions," leading me to wonder if only the liberal majority's moral and intellectual ideas will be a part of the lesson plan.

Lawmakers are also moving a bill that would require students to better understand personal finance. Supporters say educating students about debt and savings would teach young people not to become victims of predatory lending practices and to prepare for their future. Both bills have merit. Lawmakers should go a step further, though, and require courses in state and local history.

By learning to appreciate our rich history and tradition more, young people might be encouraged to invest in the future. And that would benefit us all.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

The State House News Service contributed to this report.

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