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ERIC Number: EJ790358
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
Open Secrets: Using the Internet to Learn about the Influence of Money in Politics
Scheuerell, Scott K.
Social Education, v72 n3 p152-155 2008
With the 2008 election quickly approaching, candidates continue the scramble to fund their campaigns--collecting money from individuals, corporations, and labor unions. Students can learn a great deal about the political system by examining how politicians are financed. The vast majority of high school students do not understand the influence of money in the political system. There are countless Internet sources available to a civics classroom. During the author's lesson planning, he found a website focused on tracking campaign contributions. Open Secrets,, is sponsored by the Center for Responsive Politics. The nonprofit, nonpartisan D.C.-based organization aims to educate voters on the influence of money in politics and to engage citizens in creating a more responsive government. Based on his experiences in the classroom, the site can be used to emphasize several key points about money in the political system. In this article, the author describes how to use this website in the classroom to learn about the Federal Election Commission (FEC); contribution limits; campaign contributions; and committee assignments. The site can also guide students in comparing state contributions; and contributions for Democrats and Republicans. The site shows students how much additional money is being sent to candidates; and provides students with concrete data to illustrate the advantages of being an incumbent candidate. It allows them to: view contributions from their own communities; see legislation being debated in Congress; see which companies and labor unions spend the most money on lobbyists in the country; see each trip taken by various politicians; and track who is supporting each party based on a particular issue. (Contains 20 notes.)
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street 500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: District of Columbia