Hans Zeiger in American Purpose: “Countering Our Political Coarseness”

Hans Zeiger in American Purpose: “Countering Our Political Coarseness”


JMC president Hans Zeiger appears in American Purpose writing on America’s civic education crisis and how we can solve it:

The long-running National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP)—often called “the nation’s report card”—recently released the latest civics and history test scores for America’s eighth graders. The results are dismal: Only 13 percent scored proficient or above in history, and only 22 percent scored proficient or above in civics.

Sadly, the new data on civics show a decline in comparison with the last assessment. This marks the first-ever such decline, whereas the decline in basic fluency in American history began in 2014. The history portion of the NAEP Assessment started in 1994 and the civics portion began in 1998, with testing every four years, so there’s a decent body of comparative data across the years.

While we’re failing to teach civics and history to the next generation, we’re fully exposing our students to other aspects of political life that are filtered through social media and the saturated twenty-four-hour news cycle. Sadly, they are seeing the coarsest, most cynical aspects of American politics. To process information like this, young people—just like all of us—need a grounding in a sense of who they are. If people don’t have a common picture of certain foundational ideas and ideals in a highly pluralistic society like ours, we are at real risk of fracturing. Indeed, we see signs of fracturing all around us.

We have also elevated STEM subjects over civics and history in recent decades. Understandably, we’re interested in the economic well-being of our society and we want our kids to be able to get good jobs, but we’ve sidelined citizen formation in the process. We should aspire to make our students more than consumers and workers—we should strive to make them citizens, too…

Read the rest of the piece at American Purpose >>



Hans ZeigerHans Zeiger is the President of the Jack Miller Center, a nationwide network of scholars and teachers who are committed to advancing the core texts and ideas of the American political tradition. In preparation for the 250th anniversary of American independence in 2026, Hans is leading an ambitious campaign to expand the pipeline of scholars who are dedicated to the teaching of America’s founding principles and history, to seed and cultivate university campus centers for the study of the American political tradition, and to expand the teaching of core civic knowledge in America’s K-12 schools.

Hans previously served in state and local government in Washington State, including service as chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee and ranking member on the House Higher Education Committee. He gained a reputation as a bipartisan collaborator, being named by the National Institute for Civil Discourse as co-recipient of the Gabrielle Giffords Award for Civility in State Governance in 2015.

Hans led the Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute from 2012 to 2020. He was an adjunct professor of political science at Seattle Pacific University, a Leadership Fellow of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, and a Rodel Fellow of the Aspen Institute. Hans was also a trustee of the Washington State Historical Society.

Hans’s writings on public policy, history, and civil society have appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, National Review Online, and Seattle Times, among others.

Hans holds a bachelor’s degree from Hillsdale College and a master’s in public policy from Pepperdine University. He also studied American politics at Claremont Graduate University. He previously served as a public affairs officer in the Air National Guard. Hans and his wife Erin have two daughters.

Learn more about Hans Zeiger >>



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