Americans are united around the need for civic education

much has been made about our divided populace, but when it comes to civic education, Americans across the political spectrum agree on its importance, that we need more of it, and it should be better funded.

This fall, Cygnal spoke with 3,002 Americans — including likely general election voters, an oversample of Republican primary voters, and an oversample of K–12 parents from both parties — asking them a series of questions about civic education. We found that voters and parents from across the political isolate strongly support civic education: Nearly 80% feel that civic education is important.

Whenever we conduct research on a specific issue, we look for 50% agreement to be able to say that voters back that issue. The fact that 80% of those polled show support for civics indicates an extremely broad base for civic education. That this was represented evenly among Republicans and Democrats is astounding and makes civic education by far the most positive issue research I have conducted in years.

This positive feeling for civics exposes a large gap between actual policy reflecting this strong commitment to civic education and what people believe is best for this country and its next generations, including:

  • 72% of likely voters believe that civic education should encourage vigorous debate about different points of view, even about controversial issues
  • 78% believe that “education should expose students to a range of viewpoints, not just one point of view, even if I disagree with it.”

And while funding typically does not poll well, we found strong support for greater funding of civics to the tune of 65% of likely voters, including nearly 60% of Republicans, 73% of Democrats, and nearly 65% ​​of parents.

Policymakers have a rare opportunity to leverage strong constituent support across the political spectrum by advancing the current will of voters rather than what politicians might perceived this to be. And what is that will of the people? Stronger civic education in classrooms across the nation in order to sustain and strengthen our constitutional democracy.

Right now, a bipartisan bill sits before Congress that would provide the funding for civic education that parents want while ensuring all curricular decisions are left to the states and localities. The Civics Secures Democracy Act would provide a generational investment of $1 billion annually over the course of five years for states to use to improve civic education and reflect the importance constituents place on the subject.

More than half of likely voters that we polled expressed initial support for the bill, while only 17% outright opposed it. When given more information about the Civics Secures Democracy Act, support for the bill only grew across all voter groups, including the primary voters of both parties.

As a pollster, it is my job to provide unbiased data to let decision-makers know how their constituencies feel about a topic. This poll provides clear and compelling data that shows what politicians’ supporters want. And that is civic education.

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Brent Buchanan is the founder and president of Cygnal, an award-winning polling, public opinion, and predictive analytics firm based in Washington.

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