Don’t know much about civics: Overwhelming majority (93%) of U.S. adults believe civics education should be bolstered in public schools

By Jacel Egan of Salem, Oregon. Jacel is the marketing communications manager at icitizen, civic engagement tool that connects citizens and their elected officials through online polling.

According to a new icitizen survey released by Sen. Chuck Riley (OR-15), more than nine in 10 Americans believe that more emphasis should be placed on civics education in the public school system.

“We’re living in a time now where it’s hard to tell the difference between fake news and real news, and alternative facts are being presented as truth,” said Oregon Sen. Chuck Riley. “It’s clear constituents want to address this issue head on, and as an elected official, I’m obligated to do what I can to help future generations be prepared and informed citizens.”

Fully 84% of respondents support requiring high school students to pass a proficiency test in civics in order to earn their diploma (10% oppose, 6% unsure). This crosses age, gender, and party lines, and actually increases with age: support is at 74% among millennials and reaching upwards of 95% support among seniors ages 65+.

Taking the requirement further, almost a three-fourths (74%) of Americans support requiring high school students to take and pass the U.S. citizenship test to demonstrate civic proficiency (21% oppose, 5% unsure). The strongest opponent of this requirement are racial minorities; about a third expressed their disapproval (34%).

"Given the dramatic increase in civic engagement after the election, it's no surprise that emphasis on civics education would be a priority across party and demographic lines," said Cynthia Villacis, icitizen's Director of Polling. "Lawmakers should be cognizant while drafting legislation to be inclusive and ensure that these proficiency tests accommodate those with special needs or language barriers."

Methodology: The survey was conducted online from April 5-13, 2017 among 1,245 American adults. In order to achieve an accurate demographic representation of the public, the data were weighted to U.S. Census and national benchmarks for gender, age, race, education and party identification. The margin of error for the full sample is +/- 2.78 percentage points and is higher for subgroups.

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