One of the primary reasons our nation’s founders envisioned a vast public education system was to prepare youth to be active participants in our system of self-government. The responsibilities of each citizen were assumed to go far beyond casting a vote; protecting the common good would require developing students’ critical thinking and debate skills, along with strong civic virtues.
Blind devotion to the state or its leaders would never be enough. Rather, being American was something to be learned and carried out.
“I share my own experience of having lived in Eastern Europe—where in some places it was dangerous to criticize the government—to help my students understand and prepare to defend the freedoms we have in America,” says educator Toni Simovski. His family emigrated from Macedonia and Simovski served as a translator for the U.S. military before becoming an award-winning high school civics teacher in Dearborn, Mich.