The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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High school should offer government course

A deeper look into how U.S. government education affects the population today

This past summer when I was at camp, the head of my age group presented us with famous Supreme Court cases to discuss each morning. When I sat next to my friends who attended CESJDS middle school, they had the ability to think through the cases and explain the legal reasoning behind each ruling. As we continued to do this everyday, I couldn’t help but think about how much I was missing by not having learned about the U.S. government in school. 

Each grade at JDS increases by roughly 20 students freshman year, which is about one quarter of each grade. While JDS teaches U.S. government in eighth grade, it is a required class in Montgomery County Public High Schools (MCPS). Many middle schools, similar to the one I attended, do not teach a course on the U.S. government because they expect students to learn it in high school, which creates a gap for students who join JDS freshman year. 

It is important for me, and all the other students who join JDS in high school, to get a proper in-depth education about the U.S. government. 

After years of learning history, I can list off the leaders and government structures of ancient civilizations without fully understanding those aspects of the country I live in. It is unusual for me, and all other students who joined JDS in high school, to have little understanding of the government because of the gap between the eighth grade government education at JDS and the high school one in MCPS.

While it might seem like a minor issue, I am often affected by this lack of knowledge. Many times, I feel uncomfortable engaging in political discussions, worrying that I will make a dumb remark. When these conversations inevitably come up amongst my peers at JDS or even outside of school at events and dinners, I stay silent. 

Even outside the realm of school, the different government branches will affect everyone at some point in their lives. Whether it be voting, legal issues and concerns or even careers related to law, understanding of the democratic legal system is crucial. 

Many students in the senior class each year at JDS are eligible to vote. However, senior Oren Israel who joined JDS in high school, feels as though he would not be as informed of a voter as he should be.

“I think it is very important for us to learn about how the government functions because as coming up voters, we are the ones who are going to affect the policies,” Israel said. “Especially as we are seeing local governments affecting marginalized communities and stuff like that,  I think it is really important for JDS to teach us how that works and how to be an informed voter.”

I know it is unreasonable to request a total change to the JDS high school history curriculum. However, I think that the school should offer a U.S. government course as an elective option for high school so students with no prior government education can choose to learn more. 

In the past, JDS has changed certain middle school classes, like the math track of eighth-graders who are a year ahead, to align with other middle schools that feed into JDS. I believe that offering a U.S. government course is crucial for students who join JDS in high school. 

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About the Contributor
Maiya Blumenthal, Opinion Editor
Maiya is so excited to continue her work on the Lion’s Tale this year as an opinion editor. She can’t wait to help people share their ideas with the community in this role. Outside of Lion’s Tale, Maiya plays basketball, tennis and piano, and participates in Friendship Circle and the CESJDS Debate Team. Maiya can’t wait to work with the rest of the Lion’s Tale staff to produce interesting and unique content this year.  

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