There is a provocative opinion piece in today’s New York Times by former presidential candidate John B. Anderson and EAC commissioner Ray Martinez, “Voters’ Ed”. They call for automatic voter registration for all high school seniors in the United States, and in the opinion piece deal with the pros and cons of their proposal.
In their piece, there’s one sentence worth repeating here: “High schools, after all, are the ideal environments in which to introduce young Americans to voting and to impress upon them the importance of active participation in our democratic system.” Indeed, and in my opinion, we can do more than just automatically register every high school student to vote. In an era where schools are focusing more on teaching basics like reading and math to try to teach to standardized testing, we should keep in mind that schools are also a place where we need to insure that civic values are taught and reinforced. Perhaps as part of automatically registering all high school students we should also have coursework that teaches and reinforces civic values. If schools need to cut back on social studies to teach reading and math, so be it; but how about making sure that the reading and math incorporate civic values?