- Associated Press - Thursday, August 21, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss told California lawmakers Thursday that he hopes the public will once again view politics as a noble calling, and he pledged to do his part through his civics education initiative.

The 66-year-old actor best known for “Jaws” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was honored by California state lawmakers for his work promoting civics in public schools.

In 2008, he founded The Dreyfuss Initiative, a nonprofit that promotes teaching about American democracy in classrooms nationwide. The initiative, among other things, provides teachers with videos and educational tools.

“I want to remind you that it wasn’t that long ago that there were people who referred to politicians and politics as a noble calling,” Dreyfuss told senators at the Capitol. “It hasn’t been lately. And I pledge to get back there as soon as possible.”

Republican Sen. Mark Wyland presented Dreyfuss with a resolution recognizing him for speaking out about the deterioration of civics education.

Wyland, who has promoted civics education in the San Diego region he represents, said it’s important to remind the public about the importance of the nation’s fragile system of government or risk losing it.

“This is about preservation of this very, very precious thing, which we do all day long,” the senator from Escondido said. “We consider this part of our job, but many, many, many of our constituents and many, many young people surveys show don’t know enough.”

Dreyfuss won the Academy Award for best actor in 1977 for “The Goodbye Girl” and received a second nomination in 1995 for “Mr. Holland’s Opus.”

He urged lawmakers to work together for the benefit of future generations.

“We have a responsibility to the America of the future,” Dreyfuss said.

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