A national survey finds 87 percent of Americans can name at least one of Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs….but only 39 percent of Americans could name one of the nine justices of the U-S Supreme Court. That’s why Missouri’s top judge thinks it’s time to add a “C” to the three “R’s.” Chief Justice Michael Wolff is disturbed that a recent Zogby poll shows more Americans can name the original Three Stooges than can name the three branches of government. —Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. In fact, Wolff says, America’s society seems so focused on pop culture than citizens are more likely to know all of the judges on “American Idol” than know any of the judges of the United States Supreme Court. He says our media-oriented society focuses more on pop culture than on civic education…but it’s time for the return of Civics. He says an uninformed electorate and a citizenry that might not know enough or care enough to vote is a long-term problem in our society that threatens to let the laws that govern society get “out of whack.” Wolff says the education system emphasizes learning that allows a person to function economically….and the No Child Left Behind law encourages that. But he says that philosophy has come at the expense of civic knowledge. He says it’s not the schools’ problem alone…and it’s not education’s sole responsiblity to solve the problem. He says the larger society and the larger culture have to participate. He says a basic understanding of the structure of government is helpful in keeping our government in a proper balance. Wolff thinks most Americans are middle-of-the roaders but he says people who are not aware of the checks and balances within government face the danger of a society too heavily influenced by intense special interests from the right or the left.
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