This article appeared in the November 14, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Why TVs are on in classrooms across the U.S.

Erin Scott/Reuters
George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs and William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, are sworn in during a House Intelligence Committee public hearing in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 13, 2019.

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First, they’re watching TV in my son’s Advanced Placement government class this week – and in schools across the country.

The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine has offered a living lab into the Constitution, one that teachers are upending their lesson plans to ensure their students understand. (“Who is Gordon Sondland?” was one question.)

Are you going to be watching the whole time, or was it just the first day? I wondered.

He hoped all of it – pronouncing it really fascinating. (Really? I thought.) I had asked him to take the course, because AP Gov was rebuilt several years ago to center around the Constitution and Supreme Court cases crucial to understanding the rights and responsibilities of Americans.

Like many other teenagers who have grown up in this hyperpartisan age, my son and his friends are energized by what I would have regarded as political arcana. I watched the presidential debates with a circle of Slurpee-drinking teenagers, who peppered me with questions throughout.

Students, like all Americans, are divided on the political motivations of the inquiry and what they believe would be a just outcome. But they are learning a lot more than which bubble to fill in on that AP test.

“It feels like, if we’re educating kids, we should have to teach this,” a veteran teacher told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “For me, what’s the point of a public education if we’re not teaching kids to be citizens?”

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This article appeared in the November 14, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 11/14 edition