Only 26 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government, a 2016 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found. Only 23 percent of eighth-graders ranked at or above the proficient level on a recent national civics exam.
When civics education is taught effectively, it can help students become informed and engaged citizens. But only nine states and the District of Columbia require one year of U.S. government or civics, while 30 states require a half year and the other 11 states have no civics requirement.
“Courts play a vital role in protecting people’s rights,” NCSC President Mary McQueen said.
The brief video explains why the Founding Fathers elevated the judiciary to its status as the government’s third and equal branch. It then points out that most people think of federal courts, particularly the U.S. Supreme Court, when they think of courts, but that a whopping 96 percent of all cases are handled in state courts. The video goes on to explain that state courts are made up of local trial courts, where juries or judges decide cases, as well as appellate and supreme courts.