by Lisa Sylvester, CNN
(CNN) This time of the year, even the youngest children know something is up. There's a running stream of political advertisements on television, mail flyers with smiling politicians asking for our vote and the ubiquitous bumper stickers on cars.
You can tell when children are getting their daily dose of politics the moment they start parroting back "I'm Barack Obama/Mitt Romney, and I approve this message."
But making sense of the electoral process can be overwhelming for children.
"One of the problems is civics is not taught adequately in schools. A Democratic system relies on an enlightened citizenry, as Thomas Jefferson said, to meet its goals," says Charles Quigley of the Center for Civic Education, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that promotes civic education.
Schools used to spend more time teaching children about the political process in class. But national education reform's mandate for high-stakes testing has teachers and school administrators now placing more emphasis on math and language arts at the expense of political science, explains Quigley.
The 2010 Civics National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation's Report Card, found the civics performance of twelfth-graders has been slipping. Only 64 percent of high school seniors were performing at or above basic level.
Achievement by U.S. 4th graders in civics was slightly better, with 77 percent at or above basic levels.
By Donna Krache, CNN
Editor’s Note: Not In Our School offers resources to help adults empower students against bullying. You may also want to check out The Stop Bullying Speak Up campaign, sponsored by Cartoon Network, CNN and Time Warner, a student-centered approach that also offers educator and parent materials.
(CNN) - It’s an anti-bullying message designed to hit home with a different audience - adults. And it hits hard.
The set is an office breakroom. The office bully calls a coworker names, then pushes and threatens him, even as horrified colleagues pretend not to notice. One gets up from his table and scurries away. The victim is humiliated. The bully revels in the power.
In the end, the boss intervenes, but not to bring justice - just to tell the bully and the victim to "get back to work."
Anyone who watches the public service announcement, “Break Bullying,” would see no office would allow the scene to play out that way. In reality, it didn't: It was based on actual experiences from the producer's middle school years.
And that’s the point, according to the organization Not in Our School and Mike Nelson, the producer of the spot: If we wouldn’t stand for bullying as adults, why do we allow it to happen in our schools?
CNN’s Schools of Thought blog is a place for parents, educators and students to learn about and discuss what's happening in education. We're curious about what's happening before kindergarten, through college and beyond. Have a story to tell? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org