According to an Associated Press and GfK poll, this finding shouldn't prove surprising because the past 3 decades have evidenced a significant, if not profound shift in the attitudes of Americans, especially young Americans who haven't reached their 30th birthdays, toward civic duty.
The 2014 poll repeated questions from a 1984 National Opinion Reseach Center poll, which surveyed Americans about their views concerning voting, volunteering, serving on a jury, reporting crime, speaking English, and being informed about national issues. The 2014 findings:
- 25% of Americans under the age of 30 said that speaking English, being informed about current events, and volunteering are not civic duties.
- In 2014, 37% of Americans believe that keeping up with current events is very important and 20% said there exists no civic obligation to be informed about current events. In 1984, 56% of Americans thought it a civic obligation.
- 67% of young Americans felt strongly about reporting crimes, calling it "very important." However, in 1984, 86% of young Americans called crime reporting "very important."
- 75% of respondents who viewed voting as a "very important obligation." Even so, only 36% of eligible voters turned out to vote in the November 2014 midterm elections. That's the lowest turnout since World War II.
- 28% of all respondents called volunteering a "very important obligation." 29% of Americans less than 30 years old considered volunteering "very important." In 1984, 19% of Americans less than 30 years old considered volunteering "very important."
These findings suggest an eroding sense of civic duty among Americans, in general, and among young Americans who have not reached their 30th birthday, in particuular. Speaking English and being informed about current events don't really matter. And, despite an increasing sense of volunteerism among young Americans, the simple fact is that less than 1 of 3 Americans who aren't yet 30 years old consider volunteering "very important."
Again this didn't happen yesterday. It's an attitude that has been developing for 30 years.
What have the nation’s public schools and the states’ educational policies doing to prepare the next generation of adult citizens to know and understand their civic roles and responsibilities? Sad to say, it seems very, very little.
Let the discussion begin...
To read The Motley Monk's post about the state of knowledge of American civics, click on the following link:
To read the Associated Press/GfK poll, click on the following link: