BAR HARBOR, Maine (AP) -- Former "Jaws" actor Richard Dreyfuss says America is falling short in preparing children to become leaders and participants in the political system.

The Academy Award-winning star of "The Goodbye Girl" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" now describes himself as a full-time civic activist. He tells the Maine State Bar Association civics should be a required course from kindergarten on so that students get the tools and enthusiasm needed to lead the country.

Dreyfuss spoke Friday at the association's summer meeting in Bar Harbor, a tiny coastal town. He now devotes himself full time to a nonprofit initiative to revive the civics curriculum.

He says the United States is unique in being a nation bound together by ideas and each generation must be taught what the country stands for.