When young people see vast disparities separating individuals in society and the opportunities available to them, their frustration can pose a fundamental challenge to the institutions of democratic government.
If they do not know how to participate in these institutions in ways that solve these problems, they will simply invest their interest and energy elsewhere. That can also mean these governing structures begin to function with little public attention or oversight, leading them to evolve in unexpected and dangerous ways. This was how Germany democratically elected a Nazi government that turned into one of the most repressive and destructive regimes of all time.
Westheimer has spent much of his academic career exploring the role that education plays in the success of democratic government. This concept was celebrated by the leaders of the American revolution, who saw its success as being dependent on citizens knowledgeable enough to manage their own affairs.
Read the Gazette article Social studies, English and Math to combat inequality to learn more.