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ERIC Number: EJ1045362
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Sep
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
Turning Students into Voters: What Teachers Can Do
Lavine, Peter
Social Education, v78 n4 p175-178 Sep 2014
Political participation is seriously unequal. For example, young adults who finish college vote at almost three times the rate of contemporaries who have dropped out of high school. That gap translates into disparities by race and class. Effective civic education can reduce such inequality and make our democracy more representative. Teaching students explicitly about voting during their years in school is one important way to increase their turnout once they reach voting age. Because voting is habitual, explicit education about elections will continue to boost students' turnout for decades to come after they graduate. In classroom instruction, of course, teachers must be careful to avoid inadvertent partisan bias that might result either from their own political views or from the dominant political orientation of the class or community. The goal is to help students develop informed opinions and vote accordingly, not to shape their political beliefs. Fortunately, there is no statistical evidence that civic education affects the political preferences of young people one way or another. Tufts University's CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement) surveyed 4,483 young Americans (ages 18-24) immediately after the 2012 election, with support from the Spencer Foundation, which funds educational research. Results revealed no correlation between young people's preference for parties or candidates and the amount of civic education that they had received. Analysis of the 2012 survey data confirms what many previous studies have also found: inquiring about, studying, and discussing controversial current issues increases students' understanding of politics and their motivations to vote.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A