We want all Americans (established families and new immigrants) to be proficient in the language of the land. We also want them to be proficient in the responsibilities of democracy. How shall we achieve both ends? We can make adult English language classes more widely available and we can include inspiring civics classes in the evening as part of the adult curriculum.
But the most important input is the creation of an encouraging environment in which people at the bottom of society feel they have a chance at success. Such an environment cannot be created without reducing the inequality between rich and poor in our great democratic nation. People forget that the well-being of the least privileged members of a community adds to the dynamism of the entire economy. Just think of the difference between hiring a poorly educated laborer and a competent, confident graduate of a high school. It is in everybody’s economic interest to support extension of adult education in English and civics in a way that welcomes those who are not already well-off.