Montana prepares future generations to participate in our democracy

By: 
Sue Malek / Elsie Arntzen
Sponsor of SB 242, Senate District 46, Missoula / Montana State Superintendent

Our country’s founders understood that public education is essential to the continued success of our representative democracy. Voting and protection of individual rights are dependent on educated and engaged citizens.
The 2017 Montana Legislature overwhelmingly supported Senate Bill 242 which encourages Montana public high schools to administer the U.S. Civics Test to students. 97 percent of immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship pass this test the first time. Yet in surveys, 35 percent of Americans can’t name one branch of our federal government.
Free, online study and teaching guides can help Montana public schools offer civics education. The U.S. Civics Test materials can be found on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website: https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship/learners/study-test/study-materials-ci.... Ultimately, students will think more deeply about our history and their civic responsibilities by participating in this exam. Examples of test questions include:
• What is one purpose of the U.S. Constitution?
• What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?
• What is a right or freedom from the First Amendment?
• What was the purpose of the Declaration of Independence?
In 2016, 58 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in the US presidential election. Only 50 percent of eligible 18 to 29 year-old Americans voted that year. Engaging a knowledgeable young electorate is important.
This year, our nation is celebrating the 230th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. During National Constitution Week, Sept. 17-23, Montana public schools are encouraged to promote civics education​.
This new Montana law also encourages the Montana Office of Public Instruction to recognize school efforts in implementing successful citizenship programs. Montana has the opportunity to be a national leader in preparing the next generation of educated and engaged citizens. We are excited that Montana will increase civics education for all of our students. We have a precious democracy to defend and together Montanans will do it!

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, June 26, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961
Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org The club will have a meeting or volunteer activity. Meeting location is Sid's East Side Bar & Grill on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Members and guests eat free.  Volunteer activity on the second Wednesday of each month. Check their facebook page for updates.  Every fourth Wednesday is for a club social activity. 
Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org The club will have a meeting or volunteer activity. Meeting location is Sid's East Side Bar & Grill on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Members and guests eat free.  Volunteer activity on the second Wednesday of each month. Check their facebook page for updates.  Every fourth Wednesday is for a club social activity. 
Monday, July 8, 2019
• Christmas to Remember meeting, second Monday, 1 p.m., at Reese & Ray’s IGA, call 248-8557 for information

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