Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Asks the Nation's Teachers To Actively Engage Students in the Election Process

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Encourages Participation in October 30 National Student/Parent Mock Election - http://www.nationalmockelection.org

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We are extremely fortunate to be collaborating with Justice O'Connor in raising teacher, student and parent awareness of the importance of participation in our democracy.

You may think she is retired, but Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor remains very active in the world she knows best. With the Presidential election just around the corner, Justice O'Connor is stepping out to draw attention to the role of young people in this year's election and encourage teachers to help their students understand the political process and to participate in the National Student/Parent Mock Election on October 30.

In a compelling video message posted to the Mock Election's Official YouTube Channel and available on SchoolTube and TeacherTube, Justice O'Connor notes that teenagers and people in their twenties are re-energizing the political process and that 21st century tools like text messages, blogs, and social networks have become increasingly important in the political process.

However, O'Connor warns us that while we have more information at our fingertips than ever before, "We are failing to educate our children in the basic lessons about our democracy." She reminds viewers that "In the last National Assessment of Educational Progress, in civics, only five percent of twelfth graders could describe the checks and balances built into our constitution among the three branches, such as the Congress's power to override a President's veto. Fifty-seven percent of twelfth graders did not understand the division of power between the federal government and the states."

The video, which is being shared with schools across the country through numerous national education associations, the school publisher Pearson, USA Today, and the National Association of Broadcasters, speaks to the awesome responsibility that falls to the nation's teachers. O'Connor says, "Our teachers are really the gatekeepers of our democracy. It is our teachers who, in part, we must thank for the surge of youth interest and involvement in political affairs. And it is our teachers whom we now have to ask to take advantage of this momentum, and use this landmark time in American history to reach out and to equip the next generation with the tools they need to make serious choices about the future of our democracy."

O'Connor asks elementary, middle and high school teachers of all subjects -- from civics and government to science, math, English and history -- to become engaged: "Whether your strategy for civic engagement is the excitement of a National Student Parent Mock Election, in which millions of American students and their parents are casting mock ballots in every state and all around the world, or whether it's a video game about our courts that millions are going to want to play. Or whether you find new, creative ways to engage these children, I ask our teachers today to find the time and take the trouble to invest in the America of tomorrow and urge you to engage today's children, and their parents too, and enable them to become active participants in our own democratic system."

National Student Mock Election president Gloria Kirshner said, "We are extremely fortunate to be collaborating with Justice O'Connor in raising teacher, student and parent awareness of the importance of participation in our democracy." She added, "The Justice's video message for teachers will be a tremendous tool for educating the voters of tomorrow, and we hope they will all go to http://www.nationalmockelection.org and register to vote on October 30."

In thanking Justice O'Connor for her video message, Kirshner wrote, "I would not be surprised to learn someday that a future president was inspired by your words."

In addition to Justice O'Connor's video message, a transcript of the video is available at NationalMockElection.org.

About the National Student/Parent Mock Election:
The National Student/Parent Mock Election (NSPME) is the nation's oldest, largest and most successful voter-education project, dating from 1980. Since the first Mock Election in 1980, nearly 50 million young voters have cast their ballots and, in the process, discovered what it means to be an American citizen and the value of citizenship in our democracy. Every generation is invited to participate in the National Student/Parent Mock Election and to help "preserve and protect" our democracy. Partners for the 2008 National Student/Parent Mock Election include: USA Today, the education company Pearson, the Pearson Foundation, the National Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation, Declare Yourself, Strong American Schools, School Perceptions, Google, BrainPOP, the National PTA, the National School Boards Association, the National Council for the Social Studies, the American Association of School Administrators, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Student Councils, and the Council of the Great City Schools. The Election Assistance Commission and the Kaplan Foundation provide ongoing funding for the Mock Election. The collective contributions of all supporters help NSPME create a richer and more meaningful experience for students, parents and teachers. For more information, go to http://www.nationalmockelection.org.

Contact: kate.miller@pearson.com - 800-745-8489

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