Editor’s note:Anand R. Marriis an associate professor of social studies and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He led a team of faculty and students at the college who created a free24-lesson high school curriculum about the federal budget, national debt and budget deficit
Young adults are graduating from high school and college into an economy that appears to have lost its footing. They are typically finding fewer jobs of any kind, let alone of the sort for which they have prepared. Even worse, today’s flat economic growth will have a profound effect on the careers and personal prosperity of these new graduates for decades, just as it will on the size of the national debt and the nation’s fiscal challenges.
As they listen to the fiercely partisan debates that have created gridlock in Washington, young citizens must surely wonder whether it is possible to recapture the vitality of the economy and its potential for growth while also remaining faithful to America’s tradition of collective responsibility toward those who are more vulnerable. There never will be hard-and-fast answers to how to negotiate between these competing priorities, nor should there be. We are a democracy, and, beginning with the Constitution, we have derived strength from our ability to work through the choices that present themselves in each era, under each new set of circumstances. That is the tough work of citizenship.
However, most young Americans today do not understand the budget process.