AP Government: teaching students to be effective citizens

Carlyn Schmidgall, Senior Writer

Though Liberty’s students often find the colorful charades of politics entertaining— the antics of a certain fluffy-haired business mogul come to mind— many of us have only a superficial understanding of what goes on in our government, and how it affects us. It’s understandable, since we all lead busy lives, and it takes time to stay up-to-date on politics. But Liberty’s students neglect a valuable resource available to us: the AP US Government and Politics class.
Of Liberty’s 310 seniors, only 48 took AP Gov. Of course, many seniors opted to fulfill their senior social studies credit with the semester-long Civics class, which also informs students about our government and their role as citizens. But neither AP Gov nor Civics is required, meaning many students graduate without an understanding of how our country is run. For students willing to challenge themselves with the rigor of an AP class, AP Gov provides an in-depth look at how our country’s government works. Students often complain that high school does nothing to prepare them for the real world, but AP Gov certainly provides this opportunity.
For seniors in particular, it’s more important now than ever that we become informed on politics. Those of us who will be eighteen years old by November 2016 will be able to vote in the much-anticipated presidential election, allowing us to select the president that will shape the nation in which we will soon be adult members. Furthermore, we’ll also be able to vote for Washington’s Governor, senators and representatives in Congress, among other state and local policymakers. Understanding that we have this opportunity is only part of the process, though, because we must be informed in order to make intelligent choices.
Even students who consider themselves experts on politics would benefit greatly from a government class. Hearing the perspectives of other students— especially those don’t share the same views— challenges us to think critically about our beliefs. By considering unbiased information and examining all viewpoints, students form more thoughtful stances than if their sole source of information is the nightly news on Fox or MSNBC.
Our parents’ generation has run the country for decades, but it’s our turn to take the political reigns. Government classes don’t just teach us statistics and facts about our government; they provide students with the knowledge necessary to be informed citizens, making decisions for our country that will benefit our lives. It’s not just for an individual student’s benefit, but also for the benefit of our community and country. By understanding our country through AP Gov, we all can be better citizens. Our future depends on it.