Given all that's going on in Washington, now is the wrong time for Monomoy Regional High School to consider dropping its government studies requirement. No matter how you feel about the current administration, there's no denying that the issues being raised by its actions demand a citizenry with a deep knowledge of how our government works. The best way to arm future generations with that information is through the type of programs that Monomoy – and Chatham and Harwich high schools before – has done so well.
As part of a plan to revamp the school's graduate requirements and institute a Global Studies program, the regional high school's administration is proposing to downgrade the government program from required to elective. This would allow students to take other electives more in line with their interests and career plans. Government classes would still be offered, but would be optional. Students could take a science, language or government class but would not be required to take government.
Further, the Global Studies program being considered would require “condensing” U.S. history courses to fit within a broader curriculum. If the government program continues to be a requirement, it might have to fit within this telescoping of U.S. history.
Officials say Monomoy's current requirements are more stringent than other area schools and students have fewer choices regarding electives. That's a contributing factor, they indicate, in the loss of local students to other school districts though school choice.
This explanation makes it sound like it's all about competition, rather than providing the best educational programs for students, which shouldn't necessarily equate to more choice. It's not about marketing; it's about making good citizens.
Chatham and Harwich high schools maintained well-respected government classes before their merger into Monomoy, and since then Monomoy has maintained that reputation. Students not only learn the details of how the U.S. government operates, they get hands-on experience with the democratic process by hosting candidate debates, conducting election exit polls and attending political conventions. Engagement of this sort, at this age, almost certainly guarantees citizens that will be engaged with the process throughout their lives.
And that's important. The tests that our democracy is undergoing right now are likely to have far reaching implications that could resonate for decades. Understanding the hows and whys of the issues translates, ideally, to better decisions being made down the road. By retaining government as one of Monomoy's graduation requirements, school officials would show students that those in charge see civic education as valuable to both the individual and society.