Half of Kentuckians can't name the three branches of government, according to a survey. Time for a return to civics class?
A new survey conducted by the state's top election official shows Kentuckians lag behind in direct participation and knowledge about government — but there's some encouraging news when it comes to attitudes surrounding polarization.
The 2023 Civic Health Assessment gave Kentucky its lowest grade — a D+ — in a category dubbed Social Civics.
"Only half of Kentuckians can name three branches of government. If there's any one basic thing we expect citizens to know about the government, it's that there are checks and balances," Secretary of State Michael Adams says. "Fewer than half of Kentuckians can identify a local official, any local official at all, or their state legislator."
When it comes to news sources Kentuckians trust, Adams said the report showed TV news ranked highest at 62%, print news at 45%, and social media at 19%.
But in one area, the commonwealth bucked a national trend, showing voters more open to political compromise.
"61% of Kentuckians surveyed believe that it's better for lawmakers to work together across party lines and to compromise versus just digging in their heels and not working together," Adams says.
As for recommendations, Adams' office said Kentucky might do well to join most other states in requiring some kind of formal civics instruction. Current high school graduation requirements dictate 3 years of social studies. Adams would like to see a fourth year dedicated to civics.