Asked what sort of government America would have, Benjamin Franklin said: “A republic, if you can keep it.” His answer was based on the presupposition that Americans understood republicanism and knew how our government should tick. Today, most do not.

Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows that scores among eighth-graders in U.S. history and civics are at the lowest since the assessment began in 1994. A nation of people who do not understand their own government and its history cannot safeguard its proper functioning. 

The solution is to return the study of foundational texts and documents to the classroom: the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and so on. Not only is this critical to educating informed and active citizens. It reminds Americans of their shared stake in our national experiment.