Letters: Boost civic engagement in high schools

SHARE Letters: Boost civic engagement in high schools
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Illinois is one of 10 states that doesn’t require civics in high school. File photo of Illinois Capitol by Seth Perlman, AP.

Our state has a serious problem. We’re not talking about the budget or taxes; the problem is our children’s future and the future of democracy. There is a need to develop the future leaders of our state and provide a solid understanding of the foundation of our republic: civic knowledge and engagement.

Illinois is one of only 10 states in the country that doesn’t require a civics class for high school graduation — and it shows. Look at voter turnout in the last statewide election, where only 39 percent of the residents voted, continuing a downward trend for Illinois.

Learning about civics is more than reading about it in a textbook, taking a test or voting. It’s about understanding the importance of its role in our society. Studies show civic-minded young people turn into informed adults who are often deeply engaged in their communities.

Tuesday, the Illinois Senate Education Committee will have the opportunity to take an important step in improving civic education, starting in our high schools. House Bill 4025 would require high school students to take a civics course before graduating. The bill sailed out of the House with a bipartisan vote of 81-29 last month.

To the members of this committee and all members of the Illinois Senate: Please do what is right for our future. Support HB 4025 to help teach our students how to become civic-minded citizens who may one day sit in your very seat in Springfield.

Gery Chico, Partner

Chico & Nunes

Christie Hefner, Director

Center for American Progress Fund

John Rowe, Co-chair

Illinois Business Immigration Coalition

SEND LETTERS TO:letters@suntimes.com (Please include the name of your neighborhood or town, and a phone number for verification.)

An energy and job creator

Senate Bill 1485 and House Bill 2607, better known as the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill, is an important piece of legislation that needs to be passed this year to make Illinois more competitive with our neighboring states in terms of energy efficiency, sustainability and jobs creation.

In short, the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill will increase energy-efficient goals, which will save homeowners and businesses millions of dollars in energy costs. It will increase goals for the use of renewable energy, further lowering energy costs.

More important, the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill will, as the name implies, create jobs for my company and many small businesses like it. As a third-generation member of the electrical industry in the Chicago area, I can speak from experience when I say it will create more work for the 50 electricians I have working for me. It will allow me to put more people to work.

Kevin M. O’Shea, CEO

Shamrock Electric Co., Inc.

Chill out on ‘Chiraq’ movie

Ald. Will Burns (4th) is in a snit over Spike Lee’s intentto name his documentary about gunplay incertain Chicago neighborhoods “Chiraq”(“Alderman: Reject tax film tax credit,” May 7). He is threateningto reject Lee’s $3 million tax credit offered asa blanket incentive for filming here.

During Prohibition in the ’20s & ’30s, Al Capone generated the image by which the worldidentifies Chicago. Still,Chicago has done quite nicely. Tourists andinvestors continue to come.

Hardly a day goes bywithout gunplay in the news. A friendly nationhas even warned its tourists not to go in certainChicago neighborhoods. How much worse coulda movie titled “Chiraq” make our city?

Maybe Burns is really worried about officialembarrassment for failure to stanch the gunplay,made harder to control by the Supreme Courthaving encouraged private gun ownership everywhere by legalizing it.

When aldermen tried to remove artwork unflattering to Mayor HaroldWashington from display at the Art Institute, they failed.The art stayed. Everybody forgotabout it.

Whether Lee films with or without the tax credit,the documentary may identify a cure that has notoccurred to city fathers. Sly as he is in all this,Lee did not invent the name “Chiraq.” He’s justappropriating itfor more free publicity, thanks to big shots helping him by denouncing it.

Ted Z. Manuel,Hyde Park


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