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Creating an informed electorate starts in the classroom

Eric Foster, Cleveland Plain Dealer |

Below is an excerpt from the full opinion piece:

In short, Thomas Jefferson’s answer to the question of how to achieve a well-informed electorate was simple: public schools. Jefferson believed creating well-informed voters should be an explicit objective of our educational system, not just an additional benefit. I know what you’re thinking. Creating a well-informed voter sounds like a really complicated task. Educators already have so many obligations in the classroom, this is just piling on.

The truth is, I agree with you. Creating well-informed voters is a complicated task. Educators do already have a ton of things they have to focus on. But this doesn’t have to be a problem of addition. We can also subtract things. Ask any educator: He or she will have ideas about what they believe is a waste of their instructional time.

In other words, this is a problem that can be solved. It must be solved. The sustainability of our democracy requires it. Besides, who can reasonably argue that creating citizens who “read, judge, and vote understandingly” should not be a top priority for our schools?

Eric Foster, a community member of the Plain Dealer editorial board, is a columnist for The Plain Dealer and Foster is a lawyer in private practice.

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