“Demands of a 21st-century education have pulled schools away from requiring civics”
by Secretary of State Sarah Copeland-Hanzas
As I begin my first term as Vermont’s 39th Secretary of State, I am keenly aware of my role as Chief Elections Officer for the state and the responsibility we all share in civic life. Despite the enormous role democracy plays in our everyday lives, many Vermonters are not civically engaged.
This lack of engagement creates a void in Vermont’s democracy, a void that is oftentimes filled with dis- or misinformation, attacking the integrity and transparency of government. Elections and voting have been especially popular focus points of these attacks in recent years, but all facets of civic life are negatively impacted by these attacks, which exacerbate apathy and suspicion. It is time for action, not just reaction, against such attacks. This office will spearhead a new civics initiative and bring on a new position, an Education & Civic Engagement coordinator, to implement it; and we will need all the help we can get.
Voting is a Constitutional right, and free elections are the foundation on which faith in government rests. Examples of democracy in action exist around us every day. There are municipal meetings almost every night of the week, citizen petitions and calls to action on Front Porch Forum every day, and lawn signs every spring and fall for town meeting and elections. Despite this, there are many Vermonters who simply don’t vote. We need to recognize that sometimes people don’t vote because they don’t know how to vote, or they don’t know the candidates, or they don’t know whether their vote will make a difference.
The next phase of strengthening elections in Vermont needs to be addressing these gaps. Many of us grew up understanding that civics is about the three branches of government, checks and balances, and one person one vote. And some of us remember being told from a young age that we have an obligation to participate in civic life. But as the demands of a 21st-century education have pulled schools away from requiring civics, and modern life has become increasingly full, many of these lessons have been lost.
Our focus on civic engagement will be on how you make democracy work for you. Civics is about being able to affect change, solve problems and make life better for all of us. Individuals can only do so much on their own. Working together through civic participation allows us to accomplish things that any one individual would be unable to do themselves.
The Education & Civic Engagement Coordinator will be part of the leadership team at this agency and will work with me to create a civics curriculum for our schoolteachers, will engage Vermonters in their communities on how to do democracy, and will create a voter guide for the 2024 General Election, among other activities and initiatives. We have more tools and platforms than ever to engage with voters that my predecessors just did not have at their disposal. But this campaign will also be about “boots-on-the-ground” work, with events, school visits, and other in-person interactions.
I plan to have much more to share about this initiative in the weeks to come. I am excited to start this campaign and energize more Vermonters to participate in 2023 and beyond.
The author was elected secretary of state in 2022 after 18 years as a state legislator. She lives in Bradford with her family.
Oh great, that’s all we need is more radical brainwashing from politicians who by the way are know for their rhetoric. The last thing I want is for a progressive marxist, SJW activist, politician to tell me what is legit information. We are a republic by the way.
“America is a republic and not a pure democracy. The contemporary efforts to weaken our republican customs and institutions in the name of greater equality thus run against the efforts by America’s Founders to defend our country from the potential excesses of democratic majorities.” – Bernard Dobski, Ph.D.
Get rid of mail in voting and electric black boxes, considered worldwide the refuge of rigged elections. Get rid of out of state dirty money, primarily benefiting the likes of the Vermont Democratic Party & Balint, who both got massive funds from the biggest political con job in US history, FTX. And get rid of the leftist teachers who know exactly why they stopped teaching civics… the educational “demands of the 21st Century,” are simply obeisance to leftist ideology. Until then I’ll just assume it’s just empty virtue signaling to say you want more engagement from anyone other than more leftists like yourself.
Re: “This lack of engagement creates a void in Vermont’s democracy, a void that is oftentimes filled with dis- or misinformation, attacking the integrity and transparency of government.”
Ms. Copeland-Hanzas: While the void (as you call it) leads to ‘attacking the integrity and transparency of government’, does it not also lead to attacks on those who criticize you? Isn’t that what you’re doing in your missive?
After all, ‘participation’ doesn’t mean always agreeing with your opinion. For example, your reference to Front Porch Forum (FPF), as a call to action, disregards the fact that FPF censors some of those appeals, ostensibly because it too considers disagreements as ‘disinformation’.
That your position here claims only that those who are disengaged are the problem, that it is devoid of specific instances and any introspection in this regard – that government does no wrong – is a case in point.
Perhaps you might continue a real-time discussion with us here on Vermont Daily Chronicle, one of Vermont’s few, remaining, true civic forums. Please, let we the people offer some feed-back to your ‘boots-on-the-ground’ initiatives.
What are some of the specific points in the civics curriculum you’re creating for our schoolteachers?
Will your civics curricula explain why the U.S. is a Constitutional Republic, not a Direct Democracy? … and include the cautions set forth by John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and other Founders?
What happens when two wolves and a lamb vote on what to have for lunch? Why should the lamb remain engaged in that debate?
If anything, the preceding comments to Ms. Copeland-Hanzas’ article should demonstrate the legitimacy of the VDC forum. All excellent points rarely taught in our public schools.
This is a challenge to Vermont’s Secretary of State. Engage your constituency here, if you truly want to ‘walk the walk’.
I applaud the idea of increasing civic education, if it can be done objectively and with an emphasis on the genius of our Constitution. Still, education is not enough. We are in desperate need of communication and dialogue, with a preference for references to facts. As H. Jay Eshelman has said, engaging those who have been labeled “uninvolved” or “disinformation spreaders” on a level playing field is essential if anyone wants to get anywhere near operating a civil government. Simply calling something disinformation does not make it so. Nor does calling something “a known fact” make it true.
Here’s another idea for a civics initiative that could be spearheaded: find out why it appears that those in power “appear” to be utterly disinterested in listening seriously to those who would disagree with them.
I commend the new Secretary of State for her interest and focus on civics. I agree that many Vermonters are not actively engaged in local or national politics, and I would love for that to change.
However, I would also encourage her to challenge her Democrat colleagues who seem focused on eliminating or penalizing oppositional voices or opinions. A foundational principle of Civics is recognizing and respecting differing views…not trying to obliterate them.
Front Porch Forum illegally denied Aaron Felker a voice.
My guess: This is the last we’ll hear from Ms.Copeland-Hanzas for a while.
I think we should have a vote for the heads of all VT Agencies. Political assignment doesn’t seem to be working well.
“This lack of engagement creates a void in Vermont’s democracy, a void that is oftentimes filled with dis- or misinformation, attacking the integrity and transparency of government. Elections and voting have been especially popular focus points of these attacks in recent years, but all facets of civic life are negatively impacted by these attacks, which exacerbate apathy and suspicion. It is time for action, not just reaction, against such attacks” The mockingbird script regurgitated ad nauseum. How about the misuse and overuse of the word “attack” (four times in one paragragh – mind control/witchcraft tactic) When someone living in Florida for five years receives a Vermont election ballot it is “misinformation?” The Twitter files dropping weeks ago showed the level of censorship and information suppression and by whom. There is more than enough documented evidence to dispel the spells perpetrated by the witches and warlocks. They will continue with the social engineering, the globalist/communist NWO/WEF take over, and the civics lessons will be based on Chairman Mao, Joseph Stalin, and Saul Alinsky.
Until I see universal mail in ballots scrapped, voter ID required, out of state student voting at Vermont schools eliminated, the voter roles cleaned up, the outlawing of out of state money like Zucker Bucks funneled into town clerks, the elimination of motor voter, the elimination of machine counting and Dominion machines nothing will make elections honest. I’ll consider her efforts to be honest when these initiatives are completed. We really don’t need another leftist as civics director when the problems are well known already. Clean up the elections and create a civics course for schools that includes the study of the US Constitution and the Vermont Constitution and the federalist papers. If someone in today’s society is too ignorant to learn how to vote they probably shouldn’t vote. Voting is more than numbers and useful idiots who know nothing of the issues or candidates probably won’t vote no matter what is done. Remember, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
I agree with Dano. Civics should be reinstated in schools, but by the educators. They should be able to do so. If they need to study it first that might be a good idea too.
Hey Sarah, I’ve got your 2024 election guide right here: vote republican!
So…what is this wonderful, probably biased idea costing us taxpayers? Ive got a better idea…start teaching american government and civics in 7th grade the old fashioned way. Getting kids involved in how our government works in a way to catch their interest, and show them how to dig around for the truth instead of just believing what others say. Teach them to have an educated opinion.
The suspicion in our voting is the lying by candidates to get elected. Most Vermonters do not have representation in DC. The three puppets we have there are there for themselves. Take Sanders, what has that guy done for us? He taught Biden how to buy votes like he did in Burlington, VT. You know, the student loan lie. He can’t do that and he knows it. The trouble with people like the Secretary of State is, while they are saying one thing they are doing another.
Voters better wake up and look at what these people are doing to our state and country. We can’t count on the socialist WCAX for information.